The latest issue of the Chelsea magazine is out now and features an exclusive festive interview with cover star Mason Mount, who reflects back on a year to remember and sets goals for the future.
The midfielder has made 25 appearances for the Blues this season and has become an important part of the side under Frank Lampard, the boss he worked with on loan at Derby County last season. His industry and relentless hassling without the ball often sets the tone for the rest of the team, while his clever movement and deft touches provide plenty of danger when he is in possession as well.
It is that pairing of industry with inventiveness that makes Mount such a key player for Lampard but those attributes are ones that have been honed over many years of development. In fact, as the 20-year-old reveals in the interview, his father would constantly remind him to add additional facets to his game in order to keep ahead of his peers.
‘My dad always said when I was younger that you can’t just be a luxury number 10 because you see so many players like that in academy football,’ he tells Chelsea. ‘You see so many players who want to get on the ball, do all the good stuff, but never want to track back, work hard or do the defensive side.
‘You see that so much and he said to me that you need to do the other side of the game too, so that was always in my head.’
Mount currently has five goals to his name so far this season, the most recent our winner against Aston Villa earlier this month, as well as one for England against Kosovo in November. Yet, he has his sights set on much more.
‘I hadn’t had a full pre-season with Chelsea before last summer so that was my first goal – to go away with the first team, work hard, show the manager I was ready to play and get as many minutes as I could in pre-season,’ he said of his start to the season. ‘I knew that would give me the best chance to show him that, when the season started, I could step in and play a big part.
‘I always set a target of 10 goals too – double figures – no matter who it’s with. I achieved that last season and the year before, so hopefully I can do that this time as well. If you’re stepping up a level, then you’ve got to go to that level with your performances as well.
‘The players around you are going to be better so you have to be better as well. Ten goals was always something I felt kept me focused and kept me looking forward, at any level.’
Di Matteo’s early days as a Blue
Following the Champions League round of 16 draw pairing us with Bayern Munich, there is a timely interview with the man who masterminded our greatest European triumph in the German capital seven years ago.
Roberto Di Matteo is the subject with a focus on the first few months of the Italian’s Chelsea career, when he came to London for the first time and found a place he would instantly fall in love with.
‘I had to do my medical, so I was taken from the hotel on Cromwell Road and we were driving through Hyde Park,’ he recalled of his first memory of London. ‘I couldn’t believe there was such a nice park in the middle of town. I was amazed how big the city was, I didn’t realise, and how beautiful it was.’
Di Matteo, who scored the winning goal in two FA Cup finals for the Blues and then led us to FA Cup and Champions League glory as a manager, also remembers his first impressions of the Chelsea training ground at Harlington after he signed in 1996.
‘We had three dressing rooms,’ he said. ‘And on Wednesdays we had to get out quickly because the college was coming in! That’s just how it was. It’s completely changed nowadays but I’m not sure how many clubs in the Nineties had their own training ground, probably only Arsenal and Man United.’
Coaching the coaches
With the Chelsea Academy receiving plenty of praise in recent months for producing homegrown talent for Lampard’s senior side, there is a look at the work being done to help those in the dugout reach their coaching potential.
Simon Jones is a consulting coach developer who works with our Academy and he details what that involves: ‘I work with the coaches but obviously the outcome is to get better players so a lot of my work is around watching coaches and analysing what they do, and while I’m doing that, I’m thinking about how the kids are learning.
‘I’ll also look for innovations and creativity in the way they work, and make suggestions, and get them to pilot things and experiment, to see if they can accelerate the learning of their players, fundamentally.’
Ruud Gullit is the latest focus of our photographical look at the key moments from a Chelsea legend’s career, which traces the Dutchman’s early years winning titles in the Netherlands and Italy before his arrival in England and subsequent three seasons as player and manager at Stamford Bridge.
There are further interviews with new Chelsea Women signing Sam Kerr and Academy midfielder Henry Lawrence, as well as the latest club news and plenty more.
The January edition of the Chelsea magazine is available to buy for £3.95 in the Chelsea Megastore at Stamford Bridge and all good newsagents. It can also be ordered online.