Tuchel hopes Manchester City omission helps Mount regain top form

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<span>Photograph: James Gill/Danehouse/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: James Gill/Danehouse/Getty Images

The Chelsea manager explained why he started the midfielder on the bench and why he has no problem with his reaction


It takes a brave person to drop Mason Mount. Frank Lampard once said that Mount’s eyes would burn whenever he left him out and Thomas Tuchel saw something similar when he named the Chelsea midfielder on the bench against Manchester City on Saturday. “It’s within Mason’s character of being polite and respectful, so there is no harm,” Tuchel said. “But I get the eyes. I get the look. I know the look.”

It is nothing new as far as Chelsea’s manager is concerned. After all Mount made no attempt to hide his displeasure after starting on the bench when Tuchel’s tenure at Stamford Bridge began with a goalless draw against Wolves a year ago. The England international was not afraid to take it up with Tuchel, who was pleased to see such a spirited response from a player who would go on to play a pivotal role in Chelsea winning the Champions League.

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For Tuchel, that hunger is something to appreciate. He loves Mount’s personality and has made him a key part of his side. There is trust between the pair. Tuchel knows that Mount will carry out tactical instructions and, while the 23-year-old still has plenty of room for improvement, few of his teammates in Chelsea’s attack can match his level.

Even so, this has not been the easiest of campaigns for Mount. He has scored seven goals in all competitions, but he has looked jaded at times. The exertions of helping England reach the Euro 2020 final have taken a toll and sometimes it is hard not to feel that Mount, who has played 34 times for club and country this season, needs a rest.

It certainly seemed that way when Chelsea reached the Carabao Cup final by beating Tottenham last Wednesday. Tuchel was not happy with Mount’s performance – he was on his case from start to finish – and he decided to go in a different direction against City, with Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic asked to support Romelu Lukaku.

“We were opting for runners,” Tuchel said. “We thought we could break the line more with Hakim as a left foot on the left side and going for Christian on the right side because of the arrival of Christian in the box. He is a bit more of a runner than Mason.”

The plan malfunctioned. Ziyech, Pulisic and Lukaku rarely combined and Chelsea’s title hopes were all but over when Kevin De Bruyne gave City the lead.

Would Mount, who sparkled when Chelsea beat City in the Champions League final, have made a difference? Maybe not. He has gone eight games without a goal and has been average since Christmas. Mount should start when Chelsea visit Brighton on Tuesday, but he has not been the same since Ben Chilwell suffered a season-ending knee injury. The left wing-back had a great understanding with Mount, who is at his best when he is part of a smooth collective.

“I think he’s also missing Reece James,” Tuchel said. “Reece, N’Golo Kanté and him were so strong together. When you turn, you know without even looking he will come now, or I will go and get the pass and he will come, so I will be here.”

Chelsea are striving for those connections. Mount, whose game is not about individual moments, needs them. Above all, though, he needs to be back on the pitch. “I felt Mason not like in the 100% zone, where he is untouchable, which he normally almost is,” Tuchel said. “He’s not happy about it, but it will not last long because everyone loves Mason – me included.”

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