Do you think Declan Rice made the right decision to pledge his allegiance to England having come up through the Republic of Ireland youth ranks and made three senior appearances?
Meirion Williams: My head says he has made the right decision because he has a better opportunity of achieving something with England than he has with the Republic. But my heart says that as he has worn the shirt for the Republic of Ireland in three senior appearances then he should have stayed an Irish player. It’s a difficult one morally but ultimately the right decision professionally has been made.
Lucy Woolford: It was a really tough decision for him on a personal level and it’s not proved popular in Ireland, obviously. I agree with Meirion, for his career yes I think it was the right thing for him. He’s been handed an opportunity and, as a top young player, was right to take it.
David Meagher: No. It’s a terrible decision. Jason McAteer used to compare notes with Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman after International duty and said playing for Ireland was ‘like being on a stag weekend’. It was great fun and left him well refreshed for club duty the following week. If that’s not reason enough, I give you two words: Dean Ashton!
Emily Pulham: I don’t think there was a wrong decision to have made. Either way, he had a huge opportunity to play regular international football for a country that meant something to him.
What have you made of the lack of time Marko Arnautovic has had on the pitch since the whole China saga? Is he being punished or is his head not in the right place?
MW: You don’t mess with Manuel Pellegrini is my take on this one. We are not privy to what goes on at the training ground but it’s pretty clear he has little interest if his limited number of minutes on the pitch are anything to go by. It seems that Marko only performs when he has the adulation of the supporters and as that is now mixed he seems unwilling or incapable of raising his game.
LW: He still doesn’t seem fully happy, but he’ll come right once he gets fully fit and back on form. I do think those days will come he just has to do his talking with his feet in training and on the field. And looking less angry on the bench might help his cause!
DM: I think Marko is a confidence player and all the antics have backfired on him and even though he might not admit it, he made a mistake. He is still our best forward but he needs a goal to get back in the groove both in terms of his play but also with the fans. Here’s a crazy prediction – I think he will stay in the summer.
EP: I agree with David – about some of his points, anyway. I think Marko really needs that goal to get back into the swing of things, and until that happens, he hasn’t actually earned any more time on the pitch than Chicharito. Now that Lanzini’s back and the two really have the potential to link up well, he should be back in the team full-time soon.
Do you think Aaron Cresswell will ever hit the same heights again, or should we look to ship him out in the summer and bring in someone else?
MW: It’s sad to say that Cresswell hasn’t truly been the same player since he was injured a few years ago. He shows glimmers of that great performance of yesteryear but he now lacks that previous consistency. He is the best we have currently at that position. I would prefer him to stay and Masuaku to leave. Even if we purchase another left back I think Cresswell would still be a good player to have in our squad.
LW: I agree Meirion, he’s a key part of the squad. Returning from injury is tough and he was swiftly interrupted by a head injury so he needs a couple of games to cement his place, then he’ll be more comfortable. But I do think Masuaku makes a good impression on many occasions – I wouldn’t panic buy if I was Pellegrini.
DM: Arthur Masuaku will go and Cressy can battle it out with a new rival for the left back slot. he’s still a very decent option but needs a run of games without injury. I may be alone, but I will miss Arthur – he definitely adds a touch of excitement to proceedings – both in attack and in defence.
EP: I’d keep Cresswell; I’m not certain he’s lived up to the potential he once had – remember when City tried to sign him for silly money? But he’s a good squad player, and a stunning crosser of the ball as well as expert free kick taker. He’s looking good in games where he’s allowed to push forward – we need that.
What have you made of Manuel Lanzini’s return to the side?
MW: Simply a revelation. Yes it’s early days but it seems as if he hasn’t really been away. I believe as he gains match fitness he will only get better. With each game he seems to be getting better and better. Imagine a side with both Lanzini and Anderson firing on all cylinders, I can’t wait.
LW: Ah it’s just so nice to have him back. He brings such a spark. I think he’s settled back nicely but there’s more to come. We won two out of his first three games back and I couldn’t say he put a foot wrong. I’m excited to watch his continued progress this season.
DM: He looks happy and confident on the ball. Already attracting plenty of fouls and doesn’t seem bothered by it. It’ll take a month or more before we know if he still has that acceleration that makes him so lethal on the counterattack.
EP: He looks great – much stronger than I expected, and is bringing our midfield to life. He’ll link up well with Arnautovic, and there’s a lot of potential there for goals.
Manuel Pellegrini has never finished outside the top six as a manager but with sixth place seemingly out of reach this season, would a seventh place finish be considered a successful first season?
MW: Absolutely! I have to say that I was worried earlier on and we are still inconsistent. I still believe that seventh place is out of our reach and would welcome just a top 10 position. The worry is where he goes next. It has been said that there is little money available for transfers and it’s clear that the club is still feeling the effects of the lack of investment in previous years. I fear that he might become a little frustrated at our club.
LW: Seventh? Yes please. Like Meirion says, it still feels like there’s a little mountain to climb to get there. I say it every season, but if we can improve on last season’s position, which we’re looking good to do, it’s a successful campaign.
DM: For sure – we are in transition and seventh would be amazing. Next year will be a different challenge as top six will be something we really need to seriously challenge for. His man management and tactical nous is really impressive. It’s also great to have a manger with a bit of class about him in his dealings with the media – honest and forthright, without any of the ‘I didn’t see the incident myself’ rubbish that so many managers engage in these days.
EP: Seventh or eighth would be excellent. Sure, Pellegrini’s never finished outside of the top six before, but he’s also never inherited a club who are quite where West Ham were when he took over. We didn’t spend the season dodging relegation; we’re doing great.