It’s been quite alarming in the past week to witness the sheer volume and intensity of the criticism that West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice has received for his England performance against Kosovo last Tuesday.
The youngster was at fault for giving the ball away in the build up to the visitors’ second goal in the Three Lions’ 5-3 win at St Mary’s Stadium, which has opened him up to plenty of vitriol.
The 20-year-old is very much under-fire at the moment, but his club captain Mark Noble has come to his defence on Monday: “We know how good a player he is, he knows how good he is — and so does Gareth Southgate,” he wrote in his Evening Standard column.
“He will have ups and downs. The last 18 months has been constant ups, but football isn’t like that forever. When something like that happens you need to just bin it and carry on, which he did.”
In England we tend to build people up only to knock them down, and the chief sentiment from much of the England fanbase over the past week has been ‘what does Declan Rice do?’
However, Noble has got is spot on with what he’s said. It’s not always going to be good times with error-free games for Rice. Playing in central midfield, there will be times when you give the ball away in dangerous positions.
The thing is, though, when you actually examine the statistics from the Kosovo game, Rice didn’t play nearly as badly as his detractors want to make out.
As per WhoScored.com, Rice made 75 passes, the fourth most of any England player and the most of any non-defender. Despite that, he had a pass success rate of 92%, the third highest on the team. He also attempted six long balls forward, five of which found their man.
Besides, his WhoScored rating for the game (7.24) was only behind Ross Barkley and the effervescent front three. Yet no one gave Trent Alexander-Arnold or Harry Maguire a rollicking on Wednesday morning.
So Noble’s words need to be heeded by the England fanbase. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s how you respond to it. Rice came back terrifically, and that’s what should be noted.