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23rd Apr 2018

David Moyes threw Declan Rice under the bus after West Ham’s loss to Arsenal

But it's a different story when Joe Hart makes a mistake

Robert Redmond

“Why he would duck in the box I’ve got no idea.”

Declan Rice made a costly error in West Ham United’s 4-1 loss to Arsenal on Sunday. The score was level at 1-1, following Marko Arnautovic’s equaliser, and there were eight minutes to play when Aaron Ramsey found himself in space on the edge of the Hammers penalty area.

The Arsenal midfielder delivered a cross, aiming for the head of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The ball evaded every player and floated into Joe Hart’s net. The home side went on to win 4-1 and the Hammers’ efforts were for nothing.

Rice made a clear mistake for the goal. The 19-year-old defender, who made his international debut for the Republic of Ireland last month, ducked rather than head the ball away and saw it float into his net.

Rice admitted his mistake following the game.

And he’s right, young players will make mistakes. Rice has had a very good debut season in the Premier League, and Sunday’s error was the first high-profile mistake he has made during the campaign.

However, his manager didn’t spare his feelings following the game.

David Moyes effectively pinned the blame on Rice for Sunday’s defeat, focusing on the error as the game’s turning point.

“The young centre-half should head the ball away and it wouldn’t have even got to 2-1, it was that easy. Why he would duck in the box I’ve got no idea,” the former Manchester United manager told Sky Sports following the game.

“But look, we’ve all been young players going into games and we’re always going to make mistakes. The most important thing is you learn from your mistakes, you don’t do it again and you understand how important it is. Even if Joe Hart did shout, any centre-half – and I was one of them – can never let the ball go. The ball is in the middle of your goal and you are probably only six yards from your goal.

“You can never let the ball go. You deal with it and you argue about it afterwards. The rules for any centre-half have always been, ‘I’m going to head it clear first and talk to you after’. We are distraught for the team because I thought the team’s efforts were incredible. We’ve had good results and I think today we were going a long way to getting a good result.”

Rice’s error was obvious, and it proved pivotal in the match.

However, it could be argued that Moyes overstepped the mark a little with his criticism, especially considering how he reacted to Hart’s costly mistake against Stoke City last Monday.

Hart fumbled a shot into the path of Peter Crouch in the 1-1 draw at the London Stadium. In 19 Premier League games this season, the former Manchester City ‘keeper has made four errors that led to goals – more than every other English goalkeeper in the division combined, and certainly more than Rice.

Yet, when asked about Hart’s error by reporters following the game, Moyes said:

“If you’re a goalkeeper, it’s going to happen (mistakes).”

Moyes is clearly more forgiving when established players make mistakes.