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England’s Grealish and Mount showed they can co-exist – and be fluid and fun

https://theathletic.com/2194851/2020/11/13/england-grealish-mount-together/

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It never felt on Thursday evening at Wembley as if there was any great need for this game to take place. It was yet another match jammed into a crammed schedule, one that required Gareth Southgate to pick a 29-man squad just to protect his best and busiest players from having to play in it.

England strolled to a comfortable 3-0 win, just as they did against Wales last month, another game played at the start of a three-match international window, simply for the benefit of ITV and the FA.

But Southgate can still take some encouragement from the events of the game: the win, the individual performances, no new injuries and, best of all, one new piece of information that England did not have before.

Mason Mount and Jack Grealish, the two rising creative stars of this set-up, are not mutually exclusive within this team. They can play well together, in slightly different roles, improving one another’s game rather than detracting from it. After a few months when the attention has largely been off the pitch, that is not nothing.

The past few England camps have seen off-the-pitch stories largely drown out anything they have achieved on the field. Harry Maguire in Mykonos, Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood in Reykjavik, Greg Clarke on Zoom in front of the DCMS select committee. Southgate has had to solemnly weigh in on all of these, just as he has to on everything else. And these, you suspect, will be the stories people remember from this autumn. Ask an England fan if they can remember the scores or scorers in the recent games against Iceland, Denmark, Wales, Belgium, Denmark and now the Republic of Ireland, and they might struggle.

If there has been one genuine footballing story around the England team this autumn, it has been the duel between Grealish and Mount, two of the most exciting young attacking midfielders in the Premier League, to force their way into Southgate’s plans for next summer’s Euros.

It felt, at least before this evening, as if Mount and Grealish were two similar players competing for one place in the England team next year. One of them might start England’s opening group game against Croatia, but there was no way they both could.

The two men’s trajectories are not quite the same. Grealish is three and a bit years older than Mount. When Grealish made his Premier League debut, Mount was just 15 years old. Both are creative midfielders, not quite classical No 10s, but closer than many English players of their generation. Both players have been tested in the Championship and are now doing it at the serious end of the Premier League.

Crucially, neither Mount nor Grealish was part of the first phase of Southgate’s England tenure. Neither player went to Russia two years ago. Mount did not make his debut until September 2019, Grealish not until 12 months later. Both players, then, could be cast as the men to improve this England team, to give it the creativity and craft that it lacked at the last World Cup.

So much of Southgate’s team for next summer is settled, but that one wild card role has still felt up for grabs. We all know that Harry Kane is going to start up front, and we would expect Raheem Sterling to join him. Declan Rice will probably anchor midfield alongside Jordan Henderson. There are not many spare spots left.

When England drew 0-0 in Copenhagen on September 8, both players came on in search of a winner. But at the start of the next international break, when England beat Wales 3-0 here, in a game very reminiscent of this one, Grealish made his first full international start. He was brilliant, helping to tear Wales apart, giving England a glimpse of his off-the-cuff individualistic magic that endears him so much to fans and neutrals.

But when Mount started as that link-man between the midfield and the front line against Belgium and Denmark, making his third and fourth competitive start for England before Grealish had made one, it looked as if he was taking his place at the front of the queue. Southgate’s trust in Mount was read by many to be a sign of his preference for a more obedient, systematic and controlling player rather than the maverick charisma of Grealish. Villa fans on social media were crestfallen when it looked as if Grealish would not get a chance.

Southgate even joked about this in his press conference on Wednesday night, saying that Mount’s “only crime is not to be Jack at the moment”. But the 50-year-old, always looking for a diplomatic answer, said it was “not fair to compare”, as the two are “different players”, and that Mount might play in a “slightly different role”.

Sure enough, Southgate did come up with a solution that not many would have expected, but one that changed the way that we conceive of England’s options in this area. Rather than choosing between Grealish and Mount, he picked both of them. Mount was playing in central midfield, alongside Harry Winks at the heart of England’s 3-4-3. Grealish was in his favoured inside-left role, driving forward, taking opponents on, trying to make things happen in the final third.

Grealish was more eye-catching than Mount, playing the pass through to Reece James that nearly set up Dominic Calvert-Lewin early on, combining well with Jadon Sancho throughout, testing the Irish backline down the outside and in behind. By the end, Grealish was playing with the same grace and ease he showed against Wales, skipping past every available opponent, treating international football as if he was wearing a Villa shirt — with swagger. It was great to watch but maybe it was nothing new.

The story of the evening, if there was one, was that Mount was intelligent enough to be effective in a deep role, just as he is high up the pitch. Southgate has tried using him there before for England, for a few minutes in Copenhagen and in the last break, but this was probably Mount’s best game for England in that more central role. “The two midfielders used the ball well,” Southgate said in his post-match press conference. “The combinations with the wing-backs and the three forwards were very exciting. We got players in between the lines, turned, and running at their defence.”

This was not England’s strongest team but there is no reason, fitness aside, that Mount and Grealish cannot play in these roles against Belgium and Iceland in the next five days and beyond. We know that Southgate is trying to find the right balance between creativity and control, moving back to a 3-4-3 system that secures the defence but takes one man out of the attacking positions.

If you stick with this 3-4-3 system, replace Calvert-Lewin and Sancho with Kane and Sterling, and Winks with either Henderson or Rice, then you have a defensively solid team that can create chances too. They might look one man short in midfield but you cannot simultaneously dominate in every position.

The other option is to go back to the 4-3-3 that served England pretty well for two years before Southgate decided to ditch it. That way, you can have Mount in midfield alongside both Rice and Henderson, giving you an extra body in that area. And you can still have Grealish alongside Kane and Sterling (or Rashford or Sancho) in that front line. The cost would come in the defence, with Kyle Walker being the obvious man to give way, leaving most likely Harry Maguire and Eric Dier as the two centre-backs. Now that system might not be the best way to come up against France or Portugal or Germany in the round of 16 — not many would want Kylian Mbappe or Timo Werner running at Dier and Maguire — but England are going to spend much of the group stage dominating possession against Scotland and the Czech Republic, probing to find a way through.

So will Southgate stick with this new arrangement when the Euros do start next June? You might want to bet on it, with only one more international break left after this one. The temptation will be to replace Grealish with someone more predictable and formulaic. But the point that we learnt here is that Grealish and Mount can co-exist within a nominally cautious system, and England might well be more fluid and fluent and fun if they do.

Maybe not a totally wasted evening after all.

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It is 2020 and people still think Barkley will become good...

Scored a hattrick tonight and made an assist for Vitesse in their Europa League playoff match against Ado Den Haag. What a season this lad is having. I think that is double figures for both goals and

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So if I am correct, Mount along with Grealish are the only England player to start all 3 games for England in the international break? Good for him but for our sake's was hoping he would be left out tonight :middlefinger:

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21 minutes ago, Stats said:

So if I am correct, Mount along with Grealish are the only England player to start all 3 games for England in the international break? Good for him but for our sake's was hoping he would be left out tonight :middlefinger:

So stupid. South Gate is basically starting his first 11 bar Chilwell in a dead rubber. Joke of a manager

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So if I am correct, Mount along with Grealish are the only England player to start all 3 games for England in the international break? Good for him but for our sake's was hoping he would be left out tonight :middlefinger:
Mount will be fine. On the plus side he's probably our fittest player who doesn't seem to have an injury proneness and the playing regularly and scoring for England will no doubt increase his confidence which will be good for us.
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2 hours ago, Hutcho said:
4 hours ago, Stats said:

 

Mount will be fine. On the plus side he's probably our fittest player who doesn't seem to have an injury proneness and the playing regularly and scoring for England will no doubt increase his confidence which will be good for us.

 

When it comes to that aspect, he really is Lampard's "son" :lol:

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Pressing ok, but quality passing? Since he is here, I have never been impressed with his passing skills.

65 games for Chelsea 3 assists from open play. Against Burnley when he took corner and ball came back to him so he had another chance with all the players in the box, against Championship team this season in 6:0 win where Tammy should take all the credit for that first Havertz goal and in the last round last season against Wolves which would be his only assist in his Chelsea career you would expect players in his position to have regularly. We all remember Spurs this season when he had easy pass for Werner but he failed and this happened many other times: Arsenal FA cup final, City in the league... 

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31 minutes ago, NikkiCFC said:

Pressing ok, but quality passing? Since he is here, I have never been impressed with his passing skills.

65 games for Chelsea 3 assists from open play. Against Burnley when he took corner and ball came back to him so he had another chance with all the players in the box, against Championship team this season in 6:0 win where Tammy should take all the credit for that first Havertz goal and in the last round last season against Wolves which would be his only assist in his Chelsea career you would expect players in his position to have regularly. We all remember Spurs this season when he had easy pass for Werner but he failed and this happened many other times: Arsenal FA cup final, City in the league... 

I think you're confusing passing with creativity/vision here...

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50 minutes ago, Jason said:

I think you're confusing passing with creativity/vision here...

That simple pass for Werner against Spurs has nothing to do with creativity. I would expect Zouma to make those. 

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2 minutes ago, NikkiCFC said:

That simple pass for Werner against Spurs has nothing to do with creativity. I would expect Zouma to make those. 

Not sit here and argue about Mount's passing quality but you're being ridiculous if you use that one incident to basically say his passing quality isn't great, when every player, even the best ones, has screwed up passes like that at some point in their career.

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24 minutes ago, Jason said:

Not sit here and argue about Mount's passing quality but you're being ridiculous if you use that one incident to basically say his passing quality isn't great, when every player, even the best ones, has screwed up passes like that at some point in their career.

That is not one incident, like I mentioned examples it happened many times. And this is most simple passes we are talking about. 

I never heard people praising Mount's passing so this is new to me and the reason I posted Frank's quote. 

Before it was always: he's a motor, engine, V8, nitro etc... And I agree with that. 

But passing I really don't remember one wow moment? 

I really like those long diagonal passes because they look good on eye and are effective. I remember even Zouma, Rudiger doing this this but not Mason. Imo in passing he is only better than Kante in our midfield. 

 

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11 minutes ago, NikkiCFC said:

That is not one incident, like I mentioned examples it happened many times. And this is most simple passes we are talking about. 

I never heard people praising Mount's passing so this is new to me and the reason I posted Frank's quote. 

Before it was always: he's a motor, engine, V8, nitro etc... And I agree with that. 

But passing I really don't remember one wow moment? 

I really like those long diagonal passes because they look good on eye and are effective. I remember even Zouma, Rudiger doing this this but not Mason. Imo in passing he is only better than Kante in our midfield. 

Do you have a Mount criticism quota to fill or something? I don't know why you're so keen to jump on Mount's back here just because of a comment Lampard made. 

There are things in Mount's game right now that frustrate me but considering he's still only 21 years old, some margin for error has to be given and I don't understand why you have to criticize him every time he does something bad. When he does something well, you barely say a word. When he does something bad, there's suddenly like "I told you so" posts. 

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5 hours ago, NikkiCFC said:

Pressing ok, but quality passing? Since he is here, I have never been impressed with his passing skills.

65 games for Chelsea 3 assists from open play. Against Burnley when he took corner and ball came back to him so he had another chance with all the players in the box, against Championship team this season in 6:0 win where Tammy should take all the credit for that first Havertz goal and in the last round last season against Wolves which would be his only assist in his Chelsea career you would expect players in his position to have regularly. 

Well there's also been goals where Mount did the work that was deserving of the assist but didn't get it (Alonso Vs Spurs and Giroud Vs Watford for example) and IIRC you were the first to dismiss his contributions to those goals.

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2 hours ago, Tomo said:

Well there's also been goals where Mount did the work that was deserving of the assist but didn't get it (Alonso Vs Spurs and Giroud Vs Watford for example) and IIRC you were the first to dismiss his contributions to those goals.

But whatever helps to float there boat and fuel their "Anti-Mount" agenda. 

It obviously cant be easy trying to keep up this charade against mount without making absolute BS arguments from thin air. So I really wont waste my time arguing with a couple of posters on here regarding Mount. He is quality, a main stay for club and country and he is going to be a class player for us for a decade. 

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just parking this here so we no longer have to hear false claims that Messi never comment favourably on Mount

one would think that this was not needed, but based off a new interaction just now, it apparently is

Topps are the biggest sports trading card firm in the world

Topps has a European division, which is based in Milton Keynes, that deals with football

they have a promo deal with Messi

 

'He can be one of the best': Messi's quotes about Mount resurface after recent criticism

Mount has recently received harsh criticism from a lot of Chelsea and England fans.

Messi named Mason Mount as one of the 15 prodigies who he believes can be the future of the game, as reported by The Mirror.

Messi was the primary contributor for a Topps ‘Lionel Messi-Designed Set’ card pack.

Messi said about Mount, "Having watched him play, he has the potential to be one of the best."

Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz were the other two Chelsea stars selected by Messi for this list.

 

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