West Ham United kicked off the 2018-19 English Premier League campaign with a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool at Anfield.
It wasn’t the start the Hammers’ new manager Manuel Pellegrini would have envisaged after spending £90 million during the summer transfer window and recruiting eight players.
Nonetheless, West Ham managed to pick themselves up, finishing in top ten and recording some impressive results along the way – including a 1-1 draw with the Reds at the London Stadium in February.
However, the first-leg heavy defeat was close to forcing midfielder Declan Rice out of the club temporarily, and Hammers will only be glad it didn’t.
“I think if I look back to the start of the season, I started at Liverpool, got dragged at half-time, then missed out on three or four of the next games,” the England international told Telegraph.
“When I got dragged (off) I thought that I wasn’t cut out for the Premier League. Obviously after the first game the transfer window was still open and I was honestly thinking about going to the manager and asking to maybe go on loan somewhere.
“Because that was tough that day. To play against Liverpool, we got beat 4-0; mentally it’s tough. But the manager said ‘look you’re going to get another chance, you need to keep working’ and that’s what I did…. I haven’t looked back since.”
The 20-year-old bounced back from the disappointment in style, though, missing only four league games all campaign and playing his way into manager Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad.
Rice, who emerged as West Ham’s Players’ Player of the Year and the Young Hammer of the Year for the third consecutive season, has also made England’s Nations League finals squad after an impressive season that saw the top clubs in the land registering an interest in him.
Pellegrini convincing him to put the Liverpool game behind him surely made all the difference.