Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp sits down with Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount in a wide-ranging interview to discuss what it is like playing for Thomas Tuchel, winning last season’s Champions League, facing Man Utd on Super Sunday and what his favourite position is…
What a season so far for Chelsea?
Yes it is going well. Obviously coming back after the Champions League win last season, we set goals as a group and want to achieve big things.
As soon as the first game came around, we were like “we need to be straight back at it,” focussing on what we do best and not complicating things and it is just building momentum up to now.
You won the Champions League last season – now you must be aiming for the Premier League?
Image: Mount and Cesar Azpilicueta celebrate as Chelsea reach last season's Champions League final
That is the goal, we are working towards that. We’ve won the Champions League and now the big focus and goal is the Premier League. We still want to do well in the other competitions, but the Premier League is the big one.
For me personally, I want to win that. You go on a campaign with the Champions League, but the Premier League is the whole season, tough games every single week, but we are on the right path at the moment. But we have to stay focused every game.
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Image: Jamie Redknapp and Mason Mount at the golf simulator
You want that league title?
Definitely. It is always going to be hard with the teams we come up against, Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool are always going to be tough games.
But if you look at our last seven results before the international break, they are the ones that if you are focused and win those games, you can be up there. So those seven games for us were a big focus on, ‘don’t let our standards drop at all throughout that period’ and try and win as many games as we can to keep setting the standards at the top.
Did that Champions League win give you the belief you can go on and win more trophies?
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Definitely. When you do win something and are successful as a team, you do get that extra bit of confidence that you can do something big. We are a very humble team, hard working and since the manager has come in, we are a very open group.
The simple things make us if you look at how we play, we are not a team that does lots of difficult things, it is repetition, repetition and the intensity we play at sets the bar for us.
What is it like working for Tuchel?
He is brilliant to work under, he is very intense when the games come around and in training, but off the field he is very relaxed, someone you can talk to and he puts his arm around you.
So it is the best of both, but when you do not perform, he will not be happy and will tell you. And that is definitely something that keeps us on our toes and keeps us going.
Image: Mason Mount visited Jamie Redknapp at his home
We have set a very high standard and we always want to keep that going and training is a big thing.
We always look at the opposition a few days before we play them, but most of it is just focusing on ourselves. We know what we can do as a team and if we are doing those simple things the best we can, then we are always able to open up those pockets of space and create chances.
Defensively that has been a big change for us and we do not really give many chances away and that starts from the front, the way we press at the front sets the tone and at the back, with the change of formation and the shape we do play, it helps at the back so the full-backs can press the side where the ball is, there is cover the other way and just move and that has really helped us.
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You seem to love pressing?
It is something my Dad always used to say to me, ‘don’t be a luxury No 10 where you are just good on the ball, you have to do the other side of the game, work and track back, win the ball.’
So any time I played a No 8 role, I always wanted to get forward into the box as much as I can with Frank Lampard being a role model of mine. I always watched him when I was younger, but then as soon as we did not have the ball, I wanted to get back, win the ball back and work hard for the team, which is something I always did.
Do you think it has got to the stage in modern football where you cannot carry luxury players anymore?
You very rarely see a main No 10 in the team anymore in formations and I’ve always looked at being versatile.
I’ve played in a false No 9, out wide, No 8, with a two in midfield.
What’s your favourite?
No 8, just being able to get forward and then back. I can play in a more forward role as a No 10 coming off wide areas, but being versatile as a player helps you when you can play in different positions.
What do you want to improve in your game?
I always look at my game and think I can score or create more, be more of a threat going forward, that is something I’ve always looked at in training with finishing drills, how I get into the box, looking with (coach) Joe Edwards at how my runs into the box affect the play.
So that is a big part of my game that I want to improve. You look at how big stats are now – what crosses come in and the percentage of goals that come from different crosses we look at and what area of the box do you score most goals, it is around the penalty spot and in the six-yard box, you rarely see goals from outside the box, mostly worldies now, but not many. So I’m just trying to get in the box as much as I can now…
Image: Mason Mount and Jamie Redknapp
As an eight/nine-year-old, did you genuinely think you could get into the Chelsea first team?
I was always so focused and head strong that I wanted to make it happen and get into the first team and stay there and not just be someone who just goes and trains every now and again and then goes back to the Academy, or goes out on loan.
I did go out on loan for two years, which was always part of my vision to get that experience, to play abroad and different types of football, and then come back and give it all I can to stay there and be a player in the first team.
How lonely was it when you could not get in the Vitesse [Arnhem] first team initially?
That was a big turning point for me, it made me turn from being a boy into a man. I went there when I was 18-19 and at the beginning it was very difficult, I was not playing and was not used to that, I’m in a different country with a different type of football, I do not know where I am in the world, it was tough!
I had to learn and develop very, very quickly to give the manager the idea I was ready and to show him in training I was ready and that was a massive thing for me to learn about the professional game.
I had never experienced something like that before and it really set me up to grow as a player on and off the pitch and learn about professional football as it is a lot different than academy football.
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You then went to Derby to work with Frank and Jody Morris, which must have taken your game to another level?
I could have stayed in Holland, or gone to Germany, but it was a massive focus of mine to go back to England and play a different type of football. I’d had the technical side of Dutch football and then I wanted to go into the Championship to test myself physically and really push what I could do.
You are coming up against players that are very experienced and have played for a long time, at the top of their game, wanting to kick you.
I wanted to show people I could do it as well as testing myself at the same time because in academy football, you can get very comfortable.
I did play a year with the U23s, but after that finished my focus and goal was on going out on loan and play a different type of football, play professional football and get as many minutes as I can.
Being with Frank and Jody at Derby, I learnt a lot there and with the players we had there, we had a great season and it was brilliant for me and I learned so much there.
Do you look at Man Utd as being a good opportunity to take three points, or is it actually they have a new manager now and we need to be bang on it?
We look back at Michael Carrick’s last appearance at Stamford Bridge, a last-minute Diego Costa goal cancelling out Jesse Lingard’s opener in a 1-1 draw.
We have recently gone through that period and changed managers. It can go one way where all the players want to prove something, they are at the top of their game and you have to be ready for that and we will be. But it is a tough one to read and go into because you do not know what they are going to come with, you saw the last game where they played really well at Villarreal and win 2-0.
So we have to be prepared for anything and a very tough game, it is United, they have got top-class players, individually they can produce anything on the day, so you have to be ready for that.
You are scoring goals from everywhere – how important is it that everyone chips in with goals if you are to win the title?
Massively important. At the start of the season when I was not scoring, I was seeing Trevor on two goals, Thiago scored, Chilly scored a few, Reece, all the defenders were scoring and I was thinking: ‘You need to get scoring!’
I needed to get going and on the scoresheet, but then that game when I got three (against Norwich), once you get that first one it kind of relaxes you and you are not too focussed on it and you feel it is going to come more.
It is brilliant to see all the different goal scorers that we have, we can be dangerous from different situations, we improved the last few years from our corners – sometimes you may think it is not a massive part of the game, but if you see how many goals are scored from corners, free kicks and set plays, they can be game changers, especially in these big games.
We have been focused a lot on that and worked on it on the training pitch and it has helped us. You get that first goal from a corner and it relaxes us and you can play your stuff and it opens the game up a bit more.
So that is definitely something we have worked at and it has helped us recently.
Are you working your free kicks at the moment?
Yes, I always try to work on them. We have a few who want to step up now, obviously Reece wants to step up!
Sometimes I feel that (pressure) is good as I feel like I only have one chance, so I had better put this in or on target and have a good free kick, but hopefully we are due one pretty soon!
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Give us an insight into that dressing room, what is it like to be part of?
We are so humble as a group, but we are also so confident in who we are, what we can do, how we can play individually it really works that each person wants to buy in and work for each other and give that extra yard for each other.
And when you have that, you can go a long way and we are definitely like a family and when you win the Champions League, it definitely brings you closer and we have got closer over the last year and we are like family.
And it helps when you are on the pitch, you look at the person next to you who is giving an extra yard for you and you want do it for them and also the manager on the sidelines – you can see it, he is always going 100 per cent and he is always fighting every decision that does not go your way and that helps that we are all in it together.
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