We’ve reached the busiest point in the football calendar, and Frank Lampard’s press conference today should have been spent looking forward to the upcoming game against Southampton, which kicks off in just two days time.
Instead he spent much of his time in the Cobham press room this afternoon looking back at the debris of Sunday’s game against Tottenham. This meant dealing with the updates on the investigation into the racist abuse heard by Antonio Rudiger, and indulging in a growing bit of conflict with Jose Mourinho over the red card given to Heung-Min Son.
The qualities of star man @masonmount_10. He is always on the move. Available to receive the ball at any time. Looks forward to see what the best attacking move is before he plays safe. Thinks a step ahead that makes him faster. Only 20yr old. #mmlove #cfc pic.twitter.com/N3IWUHAc5P
— Mario Melchiot (@MarioMelchiot) December 22, 2019
On top of this, Lampard couldn’t resist adding another quick message of praise to one player in particular for their performance against Mourinho’s side. His comments about Mason Mount both acclaimed his all action showing against Spurs, but also implicitly acknowledged he been struggling in recent weeks.
“T thought Mason Mount’s performance, not just to isolate Mason as I thought Tammy was fantastic and Tomori was too, but his performance was a great example of why you want to stick with and have patience with these young players, because he is a young boy and there will be moments where the game will be difficult for him and he will learn.” Lampard said in quotes carried by Football.London.
Mason Mount Vs Tottenhampic.twitter.com/Gdfei9UTIT
— BNS Comps (@BnsComps) December 23, 2019
“And the next one he will be better. And then there will be games like the other day when you can see the player that he is,” he added.
It’s interesting to hear him speak so honestly. It indicates that he’s been aware of Mount’s recent struggles to impact games; but also perhaps that beyond just watching the games himself, he’s hearing some of the echoes of discontent from some parts of social media.
There is no doubting that Mason’s form took a dip in the last couple of months, along with most of the team. He didn’t look like he had the burst of energy in the press, or the finesse between the lines necessary to break down Everton, West Ham, Bournemouth and the other smaller sides who frustrated us through the last month.
On Sunday, Lampard’s tactical tweaks saw him moved out wide, where he was excellent again. In defence, with Cesar Azpilicueta at wing back, Mount was able to defend narrower, using his energy and engine to press Spurs much higher and narrower than when he’s in a midfield three.
This is one of those insidious Mason Mount performances where to the basic eye he looks like he's had a fairly average game but he's actually been outstanding. Some of his movement, intensity & touches have been superb.
— Socanalysis (@SocanalysisHQ) December 22, 2019
In attack too, he was able to pick up the ball in much more space, and he showed great intelligence in how he used it once the team had the lead, not forcing difficult passes or taking on unlikely shots.
It was the exact kind of mature performance we’ve been waiting for, and one that Lampard says he trusts will come more and more regularly as the 20 year old adjusts to the top level.
There is a great connection already between Mount and Lampard, as a kind of protege looking up to his idol as a player, but those who paint that relationship it as a negative, with the manager showing undue favour to his charge, are doing them both a disservice.
Frank finishes by picking out Mason Mount's performance against Spurs as justification for his faith and patience with the young players in his group, and says that will not change.
That's all for now but there will be more on our website and 5th Stand app later.#CHESOU
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 24, 2019
Yes Lampard will show great patience with the 20 year old, and yes he will single him out for praise when appropriate. But that doesn’t mean he’s blind to his flaws or his bad spells, or thinks he’s the finished article.
If there’s anyone who knows about continuing to push yourself through your career it’s the Chelsea manager. He won’t expect any less from Mason.