After the incredible highs of last season, being named Chelsea Player of the Year, getting nominated for the Ballon d’Or, setting a career high in games played (54) and a Chelsea career high in goals scored (9), and of course winning the Champions League, Mason Mount has not quite reached those same levels this season — at least not as consistently.
He’s had some incredible games, but he’s also had a fair few stinkers. He’s had a couple minor injuries, quite rare for him, though he’s also well on track to beat last year’s goals total. Lately, his performances have been mostly good, but not particularly outstanding. Perhaps the miles have caught up with him a bit, having played over 130 games for Chelsea alone in the last 2.5 years.
All of that led to Thomas Tuchel dropping him for the big showdown against Manchester City over the weekend, and while Mount did come on for the final 10 minutes, Tuchel admitted afterwards that the decision did not sit well with the recently turned 23-year-old.
Not that it should, and not that we should expect it to.
“Yeah, I get [the ‘burning eyes’] and this is absolutely normal. But it’s still within Mason’s character of kindness and being polite and being respectful, so there is no harm in this.
“I get the eyes, I get the look. I know the look, of course. He is here to play these kinds of matches, but we were simply opting for runners.”
Frank Lampard once said that he would feel Mason’s eyes “burning” him every time he didn’t pick the then 20-year-old rookie, and that he loved that because it reminded him of himself back when he was that age. Hashtag-mentality.
Tuchel explained his decision to pick Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech as mostly a choice for fresh legs for direct runs in behind and balls into the box. That clearly didn’t quite work as well as picking Mount and Kai Havertz in the Champions League final — incidentally that’s the last time those two started against City in any combination; they have played just 40 minutes all told against City this season, and never together — so hopefully that’s something for Tuchel to take on board and learn from for next time.
Meanwhile, the head coach is confident that Mount will be back to his undroppable form before long, and use those burning eyes to vanquish our opposition, Superman-style.
“I felt Mason not 100 per cent in the zone where he is like untouchable, which he normally almost is. So we took that decision and it can happen from time to time. He’s not happy about it, but it will not last long because everyone loves Mason – me included.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Telegraph
We used to say that as Mount goes, so do Chelsea. That’s quite a quality to have at such a young age, but it would appear to remain just as true now as before. Given our precarious form in the league, it would be a great time for a Mount masterclass indeed.