Charlie Nicholas has predicted a West Ham win against Brighton on Saturday, but has claimed that Declan Rice is “not a superstar”.
The Hammers suffered a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of defending champions Manchester City in their opening fixture, but the Sky pundit expects them to bounce back against the Seagulls, who themselves beat Watford 3-0.
“Declan Rice is not a superstar footballer. He is a very talented and progressive player who will get better, but West Ham are about creative ability and making chances, which Rice does not do.
“It will take Jack Wilshere time, too, but despite that I am going to go for an away win.”
Nicholas is backing a 1-0 West Ham win.
It seems a bit harsh of Nicholas to turn on Declan Rice like this. The youngster looked vulnerable against Manchester City last weekend, granted, but in a lot of respects, there is only so much blame you can lay at his door. The midfielder was a victim of Mark Noble’s absence and of Manuel Pellegrini’s system. Putting Jack Wilshere in the engine room alongside him meant that he had to do the defensive work of two midfielders against the most fearsome attacking side in the country. In fairness, he did well enough, making four tackles, two interceptions, and posting a pass completion rate of 88.9%, as per Whoscored. Realistically, you cannot ask much more of him than that, and you just hope that this isn’t the start of some kind of trend that irrationally raises expectations of the youngster.