The inherent value of international football is debatable at best, though one thing that’s undoubtedly true is that it’s almost always a great honor for players to represent their nations and countries of choice. Everyone wants to be part of an all-star team, to be the best of the best in a certain category.
And it’s also undoubtedly true that performances on the international stage can enhance careers, and in some cases, even make careers — especially when that stage is the World Cup. We’re not quite there yet, but excellence in qualifiers can also be noteworthy, and doubly so when those performances are unduly placed under a media microscope, as they often are in England.
This is where Mason Mount enters the narrative. He may be just 22, but he’s already been the focus of more headlines than we can count over the past couple years, which is not only a testament to his abilities, but a testament to the media’s obsession with generating such narratives and controversies.
In any case, young Mason looks to be as integral to England head coach Gareth Southgate’s plans as he had been to Frank Lampard’s and looks to be to Thomas Tuchel’s at Chelsea. Southgate has always been a strong believer in Mount, and it looks like others are starting to come around to that opinion as well. Mount’s actual performances along the way certainly haven’t hurt that shift in perception either!
“I was saying this in the autumn. I suppose now Thomas Tuchel picks him probably everybody will agree. When it was Frank [Lampard] it didn’t count for some reason but he’s an exceptional player.
“He finds space intelligently, he manipulates the ball very well, he creates chances, he can score goals. I thought his performance was excellent.”
-Gareth Southgate; source: BBC
Mount being Lampard’s “son” was a joke that got out of hand a bit and colored all subsequent analysis, but that always shortsighted and reductive. In any case, good to see Mason getting the recognition he so richly deserves.
Another Chelsea youngster getting some plaudits yesterday was winger Christian Pulisic, who’s had a bit of a tough season battling injuries and poor form throughout. But he excelled for the USA against Northern Ireland, and head coach Gregg Berhalter spared no praise for his captain.
“What I say about Christian is to forget about all the great stuff he does on the ball. He just competed today, and, when he’s in that type of mode, he’s just an unbelievable player.
“That’s what I was most happy with today: the relentless pressing. He just kept going and going and going, and then he’s so good on the ball, he can unbalance a team. To me, he had an overall really strong performance.
“In my opinion, that’s the next level for Christian: just that type of performance all the time. When he does that, the rest speaks for itself. He’s such a creative player, he’s such a good player and I was really impressed with his performance, really impressed with how he handled himself today before the game, during the game and after the game. So overall, I really liked his performance.”
-Gregg Berhalter; source: Goal
That’s the sort of effort that has made Mount indispensable to all his head coaches, and if Pulisic can also contribute like that as well, that can only benefit us — not to mention his own playing time under Tuchel, which hasn’t exactly been abundant.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Kai Havertz picked up the assist and Antonio Rüdiger the (unofficial) secondary assist while helping Germany keep a clean sheet in their 1-0 win over Romania. Timo Werner played the last quarter of an hour.
Rüdiger started the move for the goal with a ball over the top, which Havertz squared for Serge Gnabry to tap in.