There has been plenty of debate regarding the Irons ability to cope without Declan Rice for what might be the rest of the season, although fears of his lay off have been slightly tempered by his social media interaction showing him 'embracing' his rehabilitation at the club's 'goose green' training facility.
This season Rice has fully emerged from the shadows to take the reins of the club's captaincy from skipper Mark Noble, Rice to many fans IS the captain. Criticism of Mr West Ham, Noble, is clearly frowned on by the Hammers community, and his Monday night's performance against Wolves will probably have divided opinion even further.
Yes he was off the pace, and was culpable for not stopping speed machine Adam Traore from getting down the wing to put in the cross for Wolves' first goal, but then again so were the rest of the team! Noble put in a stellar performance, whether he can replicate the same against Leicester City is a matter of some conjecture, the player himself admitted when he announced his pending retirement that the club cannot rely upon him to perform for the full 90 minutes week in week out.
Strangely enough some fans will have a feeling of Deja Vu with regards to Rice and Noble, only back then oit was Nolan and Noble in situ, Noble had become. captain in all but name and fans openly criticised the then captain, Kevin Nolan, for his lack of pace etc... sounds familiar? Of course 'chicken Kiev' has now returned to the fold in a coaching capacity, much like has been planned for captain Mark when he hangs his boots up.
Any club that has aspirations to feature in elite European competitions must have the ability to cope with the loss of key players, and to that purpose West Ham have already had an acute portent, with the perpetual issues caused by Michail Antonio's dodgy hamstrings, the injuries to 'King' Authur Masuaku and the 'Angel' Ogbonna and the further loss, albeit only for a few games, of midfield dynamo Pablo Fornals.
The loss of Rice will probably still have a heavy impact on the club's final Barclays Premier League position, and has clearly illustrated the need to do some 'creative' recruiting in the summer, but if anything was going to 'unlock' the 'Sullivan Coffers' then this season will have done it, the irony will not have escaped the Irons majority shareholder as he considers what might have been had he chosen to lavish the same money on David Moyes as he did on Moyes's predecessor Manuel Pellegrini. - Ed