Thomas Tuchel on why he is being careful not to overload Mason Mount and how his honest approach helps get the best out of his players.
Mount has been a key player in the Chelsea side ever since he returned from loan to break into the first-team set-up under Frank Lampard at the start of the 2019/20 campaign. He has continued to be a near ever-present for Tuchel after the German took over as our head coach in January, playing more minutes than any other Blues player in all competitions last season.
Given Mount’s tireless and energetic style, there were obvious concerns over putting too much strain on him when he arrived late for pre-season after helping England reach the final of Euro 2020, but they have so far proven unfounded. He has featured in all but one of our fixtures so far in 2021/22, being an unused substitute in the 3-0 Premier League win over Aston Villa last week, since coming off the bench in our UEFA Super Cup victory against Villarreal.
Tuchel insists he is keeping a close eye on the situation, given that Mount’s high work rate, superb fitness levels and desire to give everything for the team in every game could make it difficult to spot any problems.
‘We were very careful with him in pre-season, he did not start the game against Villarreal and then he started against Crystal Palace straight away,’ he said. ‘Sometimes we are a bit worried but on the other side he seems to deal so good with all the minutes and all the load that he has that it’s sometimes very hard to leave him out because he looks fresh, he comes with a smile.
‘I would be more concerned if his face was straight and you feel some fatigue also mentally, but I don’t feel it. We are happy that he’s here and we will be careful like always with him.’
He further underlined the fact that he will only select a player if he believes they are in the correct physical and mental condition to produce their best, although the flip side of that means he expects nothing less from them every time they are in the line-up.
‘Once we decide to let him play, we have to not already have the reason maybe why he does not play so good. If we have this reason before, because he’s maybe overloaded or played too many games, we should not make him play.
‘If we make him play, everybody – himself, me, the staff – is convinced that he’s perfectly fit and he’s ready to play, and then we judge him on the same level like always. That’s life at a top club. You can never rest, you can never look back and you have to deliver. It’s a good life, actually, and the guys are used to it.’
Tuchel also used Mount as an example of how vital it is to have an honest relationship with the squad and for the players to be open to criticism as well as praise.
Our head coach felt the 22-year-old could have done better with his positioning during the first-half of our tough 1-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg, but was much more pleased with the way Mount took the feedback from Tuchel and his staff on board and improved after the break.
‘I was not absolutely happy with everything he did,’ added our head coach. ‘This is also part of the coaching, we are not only patting ourselves on the back. This is part of how we are together. If we are not happy, we tell the players what we are not happy with and then they know it. It’s straightforward and he had a good second half playing in slightly different spaces.’