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Mason Mount on false-nine role, Chelsea’s tactical versatility and evolution under Tuchel

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Work in progress, going well

Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Mason Mount spent the first 85 minutes of the Thomas Tuchel era on the bench. He’s spent the next 185 as a key figure in the team, occupying crucial central positions with and without the ball, mostly as a No.10 or, for large parts of last night’s match, a de facto false-9.

That sort of versatility has always been one of young Mason’s calling cards. In the Academy, he’d play just about everywhere in midfield, often as a No.10. Since becoming a mainstay in the senior team, he’s seen action on either wing, too, and deeper in midfield more recently as well. Tuchel seems to prefer him further forward, where he can affect the game a bit more directly, and also show off his dazzling array of half-turns.

The false-9 was something new however, though apparently something that is part of Tuchel’s overall plan to create attacking versatility in the team.

“This is the style the manager wants us to play and it’s been working well. It’s something we need to keep working at because it’s new, different for some of us. Me today, I was playing a bit like a false nine, dropping into that ten position and helping the midfield out. We’re all learning but it’s going well so far.”

“It’s a positive for us and makes it difficult for the teams we come up against: they are never going to know what we come with. So we’re working on different formations, different tactics day in, day out at training. We’re focused on getting better and better and those wins.”

-Mason Mount; source: BT Sport via Football.London

Tuchel called it “guided discovery” with which he wants his Chelsea “orchestra” to find their rhythm, and within which structure they can then improvise and find solutions to the problems posed by the deep-lying defenses we keep encountering.

This remains very much a work in progress — as evidenced by just the three goals scored in the three matches — but the players seem to be buying in and showing great effort on the pitch to do so, and those are always the necessary first steps in any evolution. And by keeping clean sheets, we’ve also managed to pick up seven points from nine.

As Tuchel says, winning makes everything easier, including a mid-season managerial and philosophical change.

But at least so far, as much as some things have changed, Mason “100 per cent Chelsea” Mount has remained just as important as before. You love to see it. (Now, let’s work on that shooting a bit, shall we?)