Declan Rice

Teja

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People keep saying Pogba in the middle is a problem but he really isn’t. It’s our tactics that don’t suit him. He could play fine with Fernandes in the middle and a DM behind him under the right tactics.

For example City have been doing it for years, playing D.Silva and KDB in midfield with only Fernandinho defending. D.Silva now replaced with B.Silva or Gundogan, Fernandinho with Rodri. Pogba isn’t any worse at defending than D.Silva, B.Silva or KDB.

However Pep’s tactic, unlike Mou or Ole, is not counter-attacking football but high press to win the ball really and fouling the opponent if they look like they are breaking through. If City sat back like we do, with their shite CBs and only 1 midfielder capable of defending they’d be getting mullered too. If Pogba were at City playing in Gundogan’s position next to B.Silva or KDB he’d absolutely fine in those tactics. Rice would be fine playing Rodri’s role too IMO.
City is a bad (or at least, an extreme) example because they prioritize technique / ball retention above all else across all areas of the pitch. Combined with their press it helps them win and keep the ball even if there aren't any specialized ball winners on the field. I highly doubt even teams like Liverpool (or really any other team in the world) can pull off what City do - they had a pretty tame midfield when Fabinho wasn't playing at DM for example.

Unless you're adopting the City philosophy as a whole and getting someone like Pep in to coach the team, it doesn't serve as a useful model for us. And even then it'll probably take several years before we success.

Other midfields can be more useful..

RM: Casemiro (DM), Kroos (Conductor), Modric (attacker)
Chelsea: Kante (#8), Jorginho (Conductor), Mount (attacker)
Pool: Fabinho (DM), Thiago (Conductor), Wijnaldum (attacker)
PSG: Gueye (DM), Veratti (Conductor) with attack shared between Neymar, AdM etc.
France: Matuidi (#8 ish) + Kante (#8) + Pogba
 

anant

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Check out Rices defensive stats in a more defensive team. He’s not even as effective as Fred but you expect him to do 1.5 of the work? Right then…
For defensive players (DMs and CBs), there arent enough stats to define their contribution.

For example, if you compare Fred with Casemiro at peak, you'd think Fred's avergae seasons shit all over Casemiro. But the high number of tackles are because of two reasons - 1. Having some protection behind him (McT) and 2. not having enough awareness to be in the right position and/or not being the few seconds late to the play (as in a good DM would block passing lanes and hence the play takes an alternate route)
 

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For defensive players (DMs and CBs), there arent enough stats to define their contribution.

For example, if you compare Fred with Casemiro at peak, you'd think Fred's avergae seasons shit all over Casemiro. But the high number of tackles are because of two reasons - 1. Having some protection behind him (McT) and 2. not having enough awareness to be in the right position and/or not being the few seconds late to the play (as in a good DM would block passing lanes and hence the play takes an alternate route)
rice has played most of the season in a 4231 next to soucek, if anything his stats should be perfectly comparable to mctominay and fred.

the issue is west ham play a lot deeper and a lot tighter than we do. he will have to play a lot higher and be a lot more progressive in our team, and i’m not sure he’s ready for that.
 

anant

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rice has played most of the season in a 4231 next to soucek, if anything his stats should be perfectly comparable to mctominay and fred.

the issue is west ham play a lot deeper and a lot tighter than we do. he will have to play a lot higher and be a lot more progressive in our team, and i’m not sure he’s ready for that.
But it doesn't work that way. How a team plays, and what the teams weaknesses are also play a crucial role.

If a team is an underdog in most games, irrespective of form, you can expect a lot of possession gains frim the DMs up high. Hell, how often do you see Rice going into 30/70 duels in opposition half, something Fred does regularly? And this is evident in tackle success rate where Rice is considerably better than Fred. Then have a look where these tackles take place - Most of Fred's tackles are in Middle third while for Rice it is in defensive third. Similarly, Rice has been dribbled past 27 times, whereas Fred has been dribbled past 55 times!

But as expected, Fred applies more pressures and has slightly more number of successful pressures as well (Fred's pressure success % being 31.4% compared to Rice's 30%).

But then again in terms of progressive distance with the ball, Rice is much better than Fred (again driven by quality of players in defensive 6 - Rice is the best player in WHU's side whereas Shaw, Maguire and arguably Lindelof carry the ball better)

The point being that comparing defensive stats of 2 players even though they play in similar formation sides is not the wisest task as defence is carried out as a unit, and there aren't stats that can properly capture the importance of a player to their defence

.
 

Adam-Utd

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@anant

The eye test and the stats show me he is somebody who sits in front of the back 4 but rarely gets involved going forward. Can we afford to carry a player like this?

For me he's a slightly better Mctominay, but for the money (60-70m) I think we'd be better to look at Ndidi or go abroad for somebody like Aurélien Tchouaméni
 

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But it doesn't work that way. How a team plays, and what the teams weaknesses are also play a crucial role.

If a team is an underdog in most games, irrespective of form, you can expect a lot of possession gains frim the DMs up high. Hell, how often do you see Rice going into 30/70 duels in opposition half, something Fred does regularly? And this is evident in tackle success rate where Rice is considerably better than Fred. Then have a look where these tackles take place - Most of Fred's tackles are in Middle third while for Rice it is in defensive third. Similarly, Rice has been dribbled past 27 times, whereas Fred has been dribbled past 55 times!

But as expected, Fred applies more pressures and has slightly more number of successful pressures as well (Fred's pressure success % being 31.4% compared to Rice's 30%).

But then again in terms of progressive distance with the ball, Rice is much better than Fred (again driven by quality of players in defensive 6 - Rice is the best player in WHU's side whereas Shaw, Maguire and arguably Lindelof carry the ball better)

The point being that comparing defensive stats of 2 players even though they play in similar formation sides is not the wisest task as defence is carried out as a unit, and there aren't stats that can properly capture the importance of a player to their defence

.
Fred gets dribbled because he’s pressing high up and he presses everyone. You don’t like him I get it but making up totally false narratives as to why stats don’t fit your argument then I’m out. You expect Pogba and rice to work because rice will do 1.5 times the defensive work when it hasn’t worked with any other midfielder we’ve tried it with. Pogba won’t work in the middle and Rice isn’t that much better than Fred, if he’s actually better at all. He might become a lot better but right now acting like Rice comes in and our midfield becomes perfect is just really far off the mark for me. Rice and any other midfield player we currently have and we are back in the same boat and we will actually be much worse off than second if we attempt to go into a season with Rice and Pogba as our midfield two. I actually want it to happen just to see the meltdown.
 
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Tapori

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Rice is not as good as people say he is nor is he as bad.
He has youth, good reading defensively and will help strengthen us in the middle and a decent range of passing.

Would fit our system imo and grow as his ceiling is higher but anything approaching 80m is ridiculous.
 

anant

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Fred gets dribbled because he’s pressing high up and he presses everyone. You don’t like him I get it but making up totally false narratives as to why stats don’t fit your argument then I’m out. You expect Pogba and rice to work because rice will do 1.5 times the defensive work when it hasn’t worked with any other midfielder we’ve tried it with. Pogba won’t work in the middle and Rice isn’t that much better than Fred, if he’s actually better at all. He might become a lot better but right now acting like Rice comes in and our midfield becomes perfect is just really far off the mark for me. Rice and any other midfield player we currently have and we are back in the same boat and we will actually be much worse off than second if we attempt to go into a season with Rice and Pogba as our midfield two. I actually want it to happen just to see the meltdown.
I literally said that Fred goes into 30/70 tackles in opposition half, something I dont expect Rice to do, and something Fred shouldn't do either tbh.

Here's the thing about Pog, if we do sign Sancho (and its a matter of when it this time rather than if), Pog would be playing in a mid 2. And hence, we need a natural DM alongside Pog who can help Pog with his defensive work. You don't rate Rice, that's another matter, but we'd be in some trouble if we don't sign a DM this time - Rice or some other guy
 

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I literally said that Fred goes into 30/70 tackles in opposition half, something I dont expect Rice to do, and something Fred shouldn't do either tbh.

Here's the thing about Pog, if we do sign Sancho (and its a matter of when it this time rather than if), Pog would be playing in a mid 2. And hence, we need a natural DM alongside Pog who can help Pog with his defensive work. You don't rate Rice, that's another matter, but we'd be in some trouble if we don't sign a DM this time - Rice or some other guy
I hope we don’t see Pogba in a midfield 2 here again but as I said in the past: Id also love to see Rice or any new player be able to deal with the pressure that playing in a two with Pogba would bring on him. I’m certain, as in I’d put my house on it that it would fail in such a way that it would be unanimous across the board and would finally totally put the Pogba in a 2 argument to bed for once and for all. If we can’t still see it after giving him 4 different partners then let’s try a 5th by all means. They literally need to be able to be in two places at any one time to cover for Pogba when he just shuts off and gives the ball away and doesn’t try and get it back and still play their own game too. Fred is spread so thin already covering for whoever else is put with him and it’s working against him. If we could get someone to sit deeper who never gives the ball away and had Fred going box to box and being rested even the odd time then I think there’s a player there we can use. Imagine a Rice and Mct midfield? It’s grim.
 

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Think people really under estimating Rice as he isnt an elegant player with super technique or playing abroad. Different player to Bellingham, but they are far and away the best not attacking central midfielders we have had for a fair while in this country.

I get the "he is similar to Mctominay and/or Fred" comment, but for me he is a much better player than either of them.

I personally just dont think we should sign him because of the expected price and that for me we should actually be signing two central midfielders. Not that I think we will do, but as much as I like Rice, I expect a similar fee would for example buy a Camavinga AND a Bissouma/Kamara for example, that is why a move for Rice is a non-starter for me, but I think he is a quality young player and would happily sell McTominay or Fred if we could get him otherwise.
 

jesperjaap

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Rice is not as good as people say he is nor is he as bad.
He has youth, good reading defensively and will help strengthen us in the middle and a decent range of passing.

Would fit our system imo and grow as his ceiling is higher but anything approaching 80m is ridiculous.
Similar to that last sentence was said by many about Grealish last summer. The difference is I think the £70m+ fee was way better value for Grealish than £35m for VDB before we signed him, quite obviously that looks the case. I would say however, you are pretty much right, as its the opposite now, I think there are players for half the price of Rice who offer as much to us in a different way.

I think Rice is very good positionally and reading the game defensively like you say (bit like Carrick but can tackle better in that respect). I wouldnt personally say he has a good range of passing....but I do think his accuracy and weight of pass on shorter passes is really good and under rated (like Keane in that respect). Not comparing his ability to either player but those are two aspects of his game that are far far better than Fred or McTominay who people keep comparing him to, wrongly in my opinion, definately better than both and also with more room for improvement
 

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Rice has to be purchased for the sole intention of three man midfield alongside Bruno / Pogba. I agree with a previous poster who's specified that Dr Bryune / Silva are examples of players who have implemented versatility through coaching instructions because neither player from what I recall showed much defensive discipline being at Wolfsburg / Valencia respectively.

Just that transition in the shape gives the team fluidity in possession. You'd have two midfield players to push further up which releases space outside for the wide forwards. Also provides the triangular movement in phases of play which typically always gives the ball possessor an option frequently.

Last aspect is that Ole has already seen short success with it with lesser quality in Matic / Herrera when Pogba was on a good run of form.
 

UNITED ACADEMY

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Rice has to be purchased for the sole intention of three man midfield alongside Bruno / Pogba. I agree with a previous poster who's specified that Dr Bryune / Silva are examples of players who have implemented versatility through coaching instructions because neither player from what I recall showed much defensive discipline being at Wolfsburg / Valencia respectively.

Just that transition in the shape gives the team fluidity in possession. You'd have two midfield players to push further up which releases space outside for the wide forwards. Also provides the triangular movement in phases of play which typically always gives the ball possessor an option frequently.

Last aspect is that Ole has already seen short success with it with lesser quality in Matic / Herrera when Pogba was on a good run of form.
Herrera is not Bruno though. That's what you are missing.

Different manager, different system. Different system also requires different players. Pep system plays a very possession based team where their players are very technical in retaining possession.

Every players are not the same. What about Pogba's ability to play ''quick passing'' instead of holding the ball way too long? Do you even consider that Silva doesn't hold the ball as much as Pogba does? That's crucial aspect if we want to play DM Pogba Bruno, which something Pogba doesn't normally do. What about Bissaka who isn't technical enough to retain possession?
 

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I wonder if working with Carrick could really help bring on the quality of his passing
 

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Ibrahim Sangaré is the one that should be considered seriously. He's excellent DM with strength on aerial duel, tackling, and ball interception. In addtion, he's also got good passing range and quite dynamic.

What else do you need from DM? I think he's the best and might be cheapest option we can get.
 

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Sorry both attributes is exactly what I mean, people that don't think we need a defensive midfielder firstly and people that don't think we need Rice. From what I've seen of him, Rice has the passing and technical ability to go with the "passion" (defensive shielding ability).
I really hope he does as I haven't seen it.

My issue is that our passing in midfield is just as bad as our defending. So adding more limited footballers will continue to leave us with players who are average on the ball or completely attack minded ones. With no control.
 

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The brutal truth is we really need two different types of midfielders
This is true, we need a Modric and a Casemiro type. This then begs the question are we better off letting Pogba go to bring in two actual midfielders? I think so because he should be the Modric type but has shown clearly in his time here he's not a CM, at least not one you can trust.

As much as Fred and Mctominay are disliked, they are played for a reason. They protect our defence as a pair. Pogba and Matic would probably be our best pairing for controlling games and passing quality but it would be awful off the ball. Ole has just chosen the safest option to guarantee us points.
 

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Not sure Rice has the mobility for what Ole wants. I feel Neves, phillips, Bellingham, camavinga would all look a better fit.
 

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This is true, we need a Modric and a Casemiro type. This then begs the question are we better off letting Pogba go to bring in two actual midfielders? I think so because he should be the Modric type but has shown clearly in his time here he's not a CM, at least not one you can trust.

As much as Fred and Mctominay are disliked, they are played for a reason. They protect our defence as a pair. Pogba and Matic would probably be our best pairing for controlling games and passing quality but it would be awful off the ball. Ole has just chosen the safest option to guarantee us points.
this is ideally what should happen.

Pogba is the player we always try to get the best out of but it never kind of works out.

camavinga and rice does the ball winning and the deep lying creativity.

the problem is our fans are incredibly impatient, we can’t exactly buy a player like camavinga and not win the PL in their eyes in the next year so most likely we will just still get the best of pogba instead.
 

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Not sure Rice has the mobility for what Ole wants. I feel Neves, phillips, Bellingham, camavinga would all look a better fit.
Surely mobility is one of rice's strong points. Pretty sure he is more mobile than neves and possibly Phillips

Bot saying i think we should sign him though because he would cost too much
 

Monger

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Surely mobility is one of rice's strong points. Pretty sure he is more mobile than neves and possibly Phillips

Bot saying i think we should sign him though because he would cost too much
Rice's strength is his reading of the game and holding his position. Neves and Phillips both play in teams who like to press in midfield.

I'm not saying he's a bad player, I just don't think he's an overall fit for Ole. Different manager and different tactics then certainly.
 

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Neves or Rice would improve us considerably I think. Hopefully we can get one of them done. Lingard might give some leverage and I'm sure most clubs would listen to good offers post covid.
 

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I hope we dont bother with rice, would just be this summers sancho . Fannying around got months offering way less than west ham will accept
 

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Probably just a lazy comparison on my behalf because they're both tall dark haired English midfielders who have played for West Ham, but maybe Carrick is an example.

I remember the same sort of thing "he's not worth that, he's not good enough" and people were pissed off when we signed him- then we won 3 straight PL titles immediately after signing him (and just him) that summer.
I totally hear you re: Carrick, one of my favourite players ever and absolutely criminally underrated. How he got left out of England team for years is shocking.

But imo Rice is absolutely nowhere near the passing ability of Carrick. He has a lot of defensive qualities, but will also cost something ridiculous.A Carrick type player though, yes that is exactly what we need.
 

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Not sure Rice has the mobility for what Ole wants. I feel Neves, phillips, Bellingham, camavinga would all look a better fit.
Huh? Rice is more mobile than neves for sure. Or do you mean he’s less mobile because he holds his position very well. Discipline in his role is one of his strong points
 

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Never is a very overrated player just because he has a pass.
I agree. He’s also a bit slow. I feel fans would tear him to bits if he moved here. In the right midfield like city he might get away with it but where new additions will be crucial to how we play then it would be tricky
 

Eddy_JukeZ

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I would be so underwhelmed with this signing.

I don't think he's good enough to be a starting XI player at a top club.
 

sullydnl

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I would be so underwhelmed with this signing.

I don't think he's good enough to be a starting XI player at a top club.
He's definitely good enough to start for a top club, because it doesn't take that much to start for a top club. That's why people like Henderson and Wijnaldum have PL and CL medals. It's just about that top side's tactics and whether a given player fits them enough.

But a strong, mobile, two-footed, positionally intelligent DM would find a space in at least some top sides.
 

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Would prefer a veratti-type player myself. Hes only 28, go for him instead