Mason mounts his defence against detractors: Richard Buxton

Mason mounts his defence against detractors: Richard Buxton

avril 8, 2021 0 Par admin

Mason Mount wears arguably the ultimate footballing insult as a badge of honour.

Where most would shy away from the tag of teacher’s pet, he actively embraces it.

Accusations of being in the manager’s good books at Stamford Bridge no longer carry the same stigma with Thomas Tuchel that they previously did under Frank Lampard.

The German is an entirely different animal to the one he replaced in the Blues’ hot seat over two months ago and Mount is the burden of proof following their 2-0 win over Porto in yesterday morning’s (Singapore time) Champions League quarter-final, first leg.

Lampard’s nurture had enabled the creative midfielder to gain the experience necessary to carve out a top-flight career with his boyhood club but it also carried drawbacks.

Being so heavily aligned to a man whose playing career he openly sought to emulate meant that Mount was unfairly judged on that kinship, instead of his natural abilities.

In Seville’s Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, the 22-year-old put further distance between himself and Lampard with an opening goal which a healthy number of the Chelsea legend’s illustrious former teammates would have been proud to claim as their own.

After receiving Jorginho’s bewitching through-pass, Mount produced a 180-degree pivot which sent Zaidu Sanusi into another postcode before coolly firing home to become the club’s youngest-ever scorer in the knockout stage of Europe’s elite club competition.

Unlocking a stubborn Porto defence that had succeeded in dumping out Juventus in the Round of 16 is no mean feat, nor is his standing within a Blues squad so laden with cash that it had led to pre-match allegations of lacking genuine substance.

Pepe tried to demean the largesse of his side’s last-eight opponents, claiming they were worth an estimated £700 million (S$1.29 billion), by insisting that “money doesn’t play”.

Clearly the well-documented travails of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz had misled the one-time Real Madrid defender as he failed to acknowledge their homegrown tormentor.

Mount doesn’t just play; he excels both in possession and without it.

His status as Chelsea’s leading scorer since Tuchel’s arrival speaks for itself, or at least it should.

Whenever Lampard singled out the England international for special praise, it provoked predictable sneers that he was only in the starting line-up by virtue of working with his superior for well over two years, at the Bridge and on loan with Derby County before that.

Tuchel’s first act in west London, similarly, fuelled a premature narrative around Mount.

Losing his starting role for the ex-Paris Saint-Germain coach’s bow, on the back of 10 successive appearances in all competitions, gave rise to suggestions that those who had once found favour were on the verge of becoming fast-tracked to the scrap heap.

DECISIVE GOALS

Yet, the truth is that Tuchel was readying Mount for a spell which has left many of his dissenters eating their words through decisive goals both in the English Premier League and now Europe.

His willingness to give Lampard’s former protege an increased level of responsibility is not borne of lip service but rather a belief in elevating his game to newfound levels, including occupying the role of an auxiliary striker masterfully in Spain’s frying pan.

Mount represents not only a player reborn but also the changing face of Chelsea.

They, as much as him, are finally free from the shadow of Tuchel’s predecessor.