West Ham can’t figure out who signed Declan Rice…


Look, I know that parting with a talismanic player is tough. We’ve done it at the Arsenal numerous times. To see a Fabregas, a van Persie, an Alexis turn his back on the club and leave for greener pastures does more than deprive the squad of a vital performer; it seems to consign the club itself to a kind of doom. It’s a signal that days will get darker and that the dawn will be delayed even further. Still, there’s usually a kind of pro forma response from the club that differs somewhat from the bitterness of the fans. Not so with this never-ending, interminably drawn-out Declan Rice saga.

Consider the apparent warmth, even the enthusiasm with which AJax has handled the transfer of Jurriën Tiimber, wishing him well, thanking us, and asking that we take good care of the lad. It’s been a benediction, almost as if Ajax see TImber’s move as more than just good for Arsenal, more than just a step up for Timber; it also confirms Ajax’s status as a club that produces players for bigger and better things.

West Ham, apparently, see themselves as a bit bigger than all of that. Maybe it’s the move from the Boleyn Ground to London Stadium. Maybe it was winning that European Conference League title. It’s hard to say that West Ham have ever been a big club or a rival to us despite the mere eight or nine kilometres that separate us. Still, the heel-dragging the club have done on this deal has gotten comical, and their official announcement seems to bend over backwards to avoid acknowledging just where in the world Rice is off to.

While it’s full of warm words about Rice’s history with and contributions to the club, it seems to make it a point to avoid saying the word “Arsenal” anywhere in its 545-word statement. Now, to be clear, no one is expecting anyone at West Ham to be genuflecting or groveling at Arsenal’s feet, thanking us effusively for deigning to do business with a club so far below our ostensible station. Far from it. There’s a fair amount of room between that obseqiousnessand the kind of passive-aggressiveness West Ham are showing. It’s not as if we paid £12m and a half-eaten bag of crisps for the player. One would think without being wrong that paying the guaranteed portion of the £105m fee over 24 months might earn us a quick mention—not even a thank-you, maybe just a mention.

The announcement ends on the kind of passive-aggressive jibe that borders on spite. David Moyes says toward the end that “West Ham United is a huge Club and, as history shows, no player is ever bigger than the Club.” While the second part of that statement is true and is one that even the biggest clubs would like to make, there’s a bit of a Napoleon complex lurking in the first. Huge clubs do not thrill at winning the European Conference League; they finish in the top four or five in the Prem (something Arsenal have struggled to do of late, it must be admitted) and have chances at winning the league, at least from time to time.

To wrap this up, I’d like to say I see eye-to-eye with those long-suffering Hammers fans who are upset at seeing a player such as Rice leave them for bigger and better things. Been there, done that. That’s a fan’s role and fate. When the club itself starts to show signs of similar salt, though, I’m left looking askance. Does the club feel so butt-hurt because it’s feeling too big for its britches?

Well, with my luck, Arsenal will weigh in with its official announcement just minutes after I publish this drivel, which would at least bring this odyssey to its conclusion.

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22 thoughts on “West Ham can’t figure out who signed Declan Rice…

  1. Eoin ó Conchobhair

    Look I know that Arsenal have fumbled their way thru this thing (curious to see what A Simple Truth & palladio will have to say) but West Ham have been mulishly stubborn throughout. It’s as if they don’t understand that players move to other clubs every once in a while. Maybe they sincerely see themselves as a big club, big enough to force Rice to stay put (or did they convince themselves they’re so big that Rice would want to stay?). They got what they wanted from us, a big fee paid quickly and they have plenty of time to spend that treasure. Do they resent us as a result? Eh. It’s not like our rivalry with him is so bitter. Derbies don’t even feel like proper derbies, they’re just another match.

    It would be grand if Arsenal could get its own ducks in a row. Announcing Havertz and then Timber on a Friday is hardly good marketing/timing. If the club didn’t carve out enough space to announce Rice ahead of the US trip, that’s another marketing opportunity missed. Maybe Rice will be traveling with the club anyway, maybe the papers are already signed long ago. Maybe, as Jon says, the announcement will happen right after this post got published.

  2. jw1

    At the very least, I can now ‘hide’ all the petty WHU fansite links in my finely curated Arsenal NewsNow profile…

    (What the hell are you doing up this early on a Saturday?
    We’re in the same time zone BTW.)

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      I’m on vacation in Maine, and my internal clock has me waking up on Chicago time. I briefly considered setting an alarm for midnight or 1am here just to see if there would be an official announcement 8am London time, but I’m relieved that I didn’t do that and didn’t miss anything either.

        1. Palladio43

          Since Eoin is waiting with bated breath for my comments, here we go:
          1) Both sides have been playing or conducting what is commonly known as a pissing match. Nobody wins, but both participants end up wet and smelly
          2) Arsenal may well have consciously stalled on the paperwork, either to exact slight revenge for how WH negotiated and forced that very short payoff period, let alone a price a bit (10-15 million) above true value, or, as some have speculated to claw back a few hundred thousand in salary
          3) WH was further angered because they wanted the money in the bank or available to bid and buy their replacement for Rice and made a big fuss despite knowing it would be there when actually needed
          4) WH may well have already seen and approved, but not signed, the final papers, but held out in a sad effort to prevent Rice from training with the Gunners and possibly miss coming to America, let alone mess up any decent press release and interviews by Arsenal
          5) I stress the last point because, if the paperwork was so complex and involved that the Arsenal lawyers required weeks to prepare them, I would assume the WH attorneys would be expected to spend days poring over each page, analyzing each clause, and looking for misspellings and bad punctuation. However, so it would seem, within mere minutes or maybe a few hours, they approved and signed with nary a peep. How can this be unless this was all a cheap charade or farce better suited for a struggling troupe of actors going from town to town and performing “Much Ado About Nothing” for their illiterate faithful.
          6) Of course, wouldn’t it be fun if weeks from now, long after the ink has dried and all proper registrations approved, WH discovers one or two obscure and well-crafted clauses buried within the text that alter the payment schedule or reduce the amounts based, not only upon Rice’s performance but upon how WH perform going forward?

          Meanwhile, both sides are now left standing with wet shirts and pants, not from any rain, and in need of long showers, dry clothing, and a decent laundromat. The stench will remain as will the hard feelings and both sides may regret the pettiness when one or the other may come calling in the future.

      1. jw1

        Nice. Hope you and yours are enjoying yourselves!

        Think we all could assume Dec would be ‘on the plane’ heading out tomorrow. Having spent appreciable years in marketing– it’s a bit of a mystery, the timing. Although that aspect is likely well down the list of ArtEdu’s priorities.

        Still of the mind Arteta (and KSE) saw no need to pay Declan’s salary until he became available post-holiday. That two-week outlay of £400k is likely the annual salary of one of Miguel Molina or Carlos Cuesta, Arteta’s assistants.

  3. Kelechi

    Salty AF. Just admit that you sold to Arsenal already. West Ham look petty as hell for this kind of announcement, as if anybody doesn’t know where Rice is off to. The sooner we put this club in the rearview, the better. Maybe they’ll get relegated so we don’t have to hear from them for a few seasons.

    1. Taipan Pete

      He’s an England international, likely future captain of it, world class midfielder reaching or just started in to his prime. What did you expect to pay?

  4. Taipan Pete

    What an absolute wank of an article. You’re suggesting it West Ham who delayed this when you lot came with absolute rubbish bids and we stood firm and got the fee we deserve and for the past week or so it’s apparently been held up by your lawyers. To suggest we aren’t and have never been a big club is also ridiculous. The size and support of a club isn’t measured in silverware and even with a lack of it we support them through thick and thin.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      “rubbish bids” is an odd epithet for “standard negotiating practice”. West Ham demanded 125m at the outset. We haggled. Yes, the original offer was a lowball, but meeting the seller’s asking price is foolish. Arsenal ended up paying something 83% of that original demand, which is fair business for both sides. West Ham extracted the lion’s share of that fee over 24 months rather than over the length of the contract, which is extraordinary. It rarely happens like that. Fair play to West Ham there.

      To say that West Ham are not a big club is not meant as an insult or a criticism. It’s meant as an objective description. West Ham have never won a First Division or Prem title, have a few FA Cups, and are only ever mid-table in the Prem. That’s just reality. For me to talk about in the snarky contest of this post, I’ll admit, does throw some shade on that reality, but it doesn’t change the reality.

    2. Mark

      I agree this article is just a load of crap. West Ham had the 2nd largest attendance in the premier league last season. We’ve also won more European cups than arsenal, but don’t let statistics get in the way of a story. Rice is leaving as he wants to play at the highest level which is ironic with Arsenal have only just got back into the UCL next season having not been in there for a number of years. Just to clear up the confusion Arsenal lawyers dragged their feet over this transfer and Chelsea made no comment about where Mason Mount was going in their recent club statement.

      1. Jon Shay Post author

        Those attendance figures are indeed significant, all the more so when we consider West Ham’s domestic struggles. As for European trophies, yes, that is true, but statistics don’t always tell the whole story. Winning the ECL is a feat, but we’ve been to a Europa League final and a Champions League final which are tougher feats. Just qualifying for those competitions is a big ask. We bottled the Prem last season, but in order to bottle it one has to be there to begin with. Up until a few years ago, we had one of the longest streaks of Champions League qualification on the planet, behind only Real Madrid.

        Last thought – if you’re appealing to Chelsea’s behaviour as a barometer for class, you’re setting quite a low bar…and losing the argument as well.

  5. dazmondo

    Spoke to a West Ham fan at a business event on Tuesday. Never met him before, but he said good luck to Rice and that he was a class above every other player at West Ham. I think the fans are showing a lot more class than the ownership.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      I’m glad to hear that there’s a wider spectrum of reaction among Hammers fans than what I’ve seen. It’s a tough call when there’s such a gulf in class from one player to the rest of the squad (we saw it with Alexis most recently). It must be frustrating to the player and disheartening to the fans. Still, at the club level, I’m surprised to see such petty behavior. Surely they should know it’s a business transaction, and they did some very good business here.

  6. Andy

    Hmmm… I wonder if WHU would’ve had the 2nd largest attendance if they hadn’t been gifted a shiny new stadium 🤔🤔

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Good point, Andy. I doubt any hammers are going to be self-reflective enough to admit to that. Hey — if you see this reply, would you mind emailing me? I’ve had some other visitors who are running into what look like malware or at least pop-up ads that they have to click to close before they can read posts. I don’t want any ads that you have to click to close, and I certainly don’t want malware. My email address is jfshay@gmail.com.

  7. A Simple Truth

    not a huge fan of this whole burning bridges tour we’ve been on in more recent times…hardly seems wise considering that both the Hammers and BHA, especially the latter, are the exact kind of teams we might need to poach from in the coming years…that said, I would suspect that what transpired here has some much deeper roots, as it’s important to remember the circumstances surrounding Arteta’s arrival, as a player, some years ago

    Wenger approached Everton with the hopes of acquiring Jagielka, but when his efforts were quickly rebuffed he put in a cheeky bid for Arteta at about half his market valuation…Arteta was so thristy to move to any team with a higher profile that he forced the move through in the 11th hour of the window, causing some friction between he and his former boss, as this didn’t leave them enough time to propery fill the pending void

    flash forward to this window, where the same smarmy f***, Moyes plausible words not mine, was trying to big up him once again, which must have been a difficult pill to swallow, especially on the heels of his/their first ever European conquest…one should never underestimate the role that ego plays within the sporting realm, which certainly rings true for fans of our club, considering what transpired during Wenger’s latter reign and, then again, since Arteta’s managerial appointment…as such, I would suspect that conducting business will be exceedingly difficult between these two clubs so long as the managers remain the same

    as for Rice, he’s clearly not worth the price paid, but from a narrative-changing aspect, he might be worth even more…in order for us to earn a spot at the adults table again, a true statement of intent was required…this was clearly meant to be that statement…of course, we’ve been at the kid’s table for so long our whole approach seemed rather sloppy and amateurish, but I guess that’s to be expected…in the end, all I hope is that we got this one right because if this turns out to be Pepe 2.0, it might be a long time before another such statement will be in the offing

    1. Palladio43

      Simple Truth, nice analysis. One would hope that once you leave schoolyards, you become an adult and behave accordingly. Sadly too many persons, not just Moyes, carry grudges forever. We see this with how our fandom has barely ever forgiven so many of those players who left Arsenal for various reasons, often just for money or greater personal glory.
      I do agree about the gnawing feeling that should be in every Gooner gut, I e , that this deal goes wrong and we are left with a plate half full or eaten. Of course, while I pray this does not happen here, I simultaneously keep hoping that we dodged Peppe 2.0 this past winter and that Chelsea is left with their version in Mudryk

      1. A Simple Truth

        Cheers…I’m going to take a more wait and see approach with regards to Mudryk, as what I witnessed from him prior to arriving at Chelsea was rather awe-inspiring, albeit that was an exceedingly small sample size…I’m not sure if anyone was going to light things up considering the ongoings at Chelsea last season


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