The Last Word: Winning the Europa League must be Moyes’ top priority to keep Rice

David Moyes (West Ham manager) and Declan Rice (WHU) at the Arsenal v West Ham United EPL match, at the Emirates Stadium, London, UK on 11th December, 2021.

Despite spending over 50 years on the dark side – which is the fate of those who are drawn to support the Hammers – I am usually the eternal optimist.

Sadly after the defeat at Manchester United, I’m finding it hard to be optimistic about a top six finish.

That was seriously not a game we should have lost and I still hold the view that despite Jarrod Bowen losing the ball, which led to the United goalscoring attack, Ryan Fredericks was much too far forward and defended appallingly.

His presence on the pitch was down to the manager and thus he takes as much responsibility as a poor player.

However, that’s dead and gone and our thoughts would perhaps be better employed in how we are going to persuade Declan to remain at the club if – as looks more than possible – we fail to offer him Champions League football next season.

I’m not into points predictions at this stage but there’s a tough run of games in front of us apart from maybe Watford and Newcastle.

With every club beneath us having four games or less in hand on us, the top six is a huge call and the reality is that the Europa League should now perhaps become the main focus.

Win that and we are in the Champions League, which gives us a real chance of holding onto Declan who was once again the stand out player against United.

The constant chatter surrounding Declan’s likely whereabouts next season goes on and if he is to move on it looks like a straight battle between the two Manchester clubs.

Talk to anybody close to Declan and it becomes more than apparent that he is not motivated by money but he does want trophies like all ambitious players.

It’s more than conceivable that with Daniel Kretinsky’s money available, the Hammers could put a deal together which would satisfy the captain. Indeed I’ve heard things are a bit brighter on that possibility. 

He hasn’t invested an initial £150 million to watch the best players walk away so anything is possible on that front.

But playing in the Champions League is something quite different which is why Moyes and his merry men should be making the Europa League their priority in my view.

Win that and we enter the big one, which may just be enough to keep Declan at the club.

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