The summer of Mason Mount did not get its happy ending but when the Chelsea midfielder reflects on the past few months there should be more satisfaction than disappointment even if the cruel conclusion at Wembley last night clouded what has gone before.
It was a strange tournament for the 22-year-old. He arrived fresh from the Champions League win and looked destined for a starring role, one of Gareth Southgate’s undroppables.
He was good, not outstanding, in the opening games against Croatia and Scotland at a time when there were genuine questions being asked of the team’s lack of cutting edge in attack.
Then that week of self-isolation was imposed for spending too much time in the company of Billy Gilmour after the Scotland draw. Three weeks on it still seems harsh but rules had been breached and there was no other option but for England to apply them.
That he missed the Czech Republic game was not considered a massive problem initially because England’s progress was already assured but Bukayo Saka impressing and the change of shape for the Germany game for which he was an unusued substitute having only emerged from quarantine the morning of the game changed his standing in the side.
In the immediate aftermath of that win, an evening when the momentum really started to build, it suddenly looked like he was no longer assured of his place if 3-4-3 was to remain but when Southgate reverted to a back four for the Ukraine game Mount returned with an all-round performance of typical efficiency – even providing the assist for Jordan Henderson’s first international goal.
But that was Mount’s only direct goal contribution in a tournament where perhaps his off-ball work stood out more. Against Denmark he continued to be a constant problem for opponents with his pressing and while it may not be the most fashionable asset it is the type of thing that coaches value so highly.
His role changed for the final as England went back to 3-4-3 and despite a lively opening he was not too involved on the left of the front three before being taken off late in the evening.
Going forward it is clear that England’s team can be built around him in the long-term but that argument could be made for several other players – Bukayo Saka, Jude Bellingham, Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden to name the most likely. Even in the wake of such a cruel loss, that is why Southgate’s job should be considered one of the most exciting in international football.
Minutes played 462. Goals 0. Assists 1. Rating 6.
Source by Football London