Declan Rice: We’re learning how to win ugly

Declan Rice

West Ham United registered their eighth win from their last eleven Premier League games by defeating Leeds United 2-0 on Monday night, but for skipper Declan Rice there is still more to come from the side.

The Hammers took the points thanks to goals from Jesse Lingard and Craig Dawson on Monday night, but the hosts did have to ride their luck at times, with Tyler Roberts and Patrick Bamford having goals ruled out early on.

West Ham made use of their good fortune to make the visitors pay, and Rice believes that mental fortitude is another sign of his team’s ability to keep on pushing forwards.

“Speaking honestly, I’m disappointed with the performance,” he admitted. “Yes, we won 2-0 and scored two goals, but if you compare the two performances from Manchester City last weekend and tonight, at Man City we were brave in taking the ball and we created loads of chances.

“Tonight, Leeds caused us problems, they came out really sharp in the first ten minutes and had two disallowed goals. As players, you need to wake yourselves up and get into the game.

“Once that first goal came, it settled us down and now we’re starting to learn how to win ugly. We didn’t play at our best but we’re grinding out these results, we’ve got a real solidity about us and long may that continue.”

Football’s great when you’re winning, we’re winning at the moment and there’s a real buzz around the place. We need to keep that going

Declan Rice

The Hammers took the lead through Lingard’s 21st minute penalty, although after the No11 had his initial effort saved before putting away the rebound, Rice admitted he might be back on spot-kick duty next time.

“I think the Gaffer has just battered me in there!” he smiled. “Me and Jess spoke and we’ve been practicing them in training together. He said to me: ‘Can I take it?’ and I’m not one to be selfish.

“I was confident in him to go up and take the ball, if he had missed there’d have been backlash on me, but I was confident in Jesse’s ability to put the ball away.

“The Gaffer has just said in there it’s definitely me on the penalties again, so for the next one I’m will have to say: ‘Jess, look give me the ball mate!’”

Rice’s smiles spoke of the fantastic team spirit around the squad, and Rice is sure that togetherness is playing a huge part in their success.

“I’ve been playing in the first team for four years now and this is the best squad I’ve ever been a part of at West Ham,” he added.

“It’s a real enjoyment and you wake up and you’re looking forward to going into training and seeing the lads. That’s a great football environment you want to be a part of and that shows on the pitch.

“Football’s great when you’re winning, we’re winning at the moment and there’s a real buzz around the place. We need to keep that going.”