Frank Lampard sees himself in Mason Mount: Neil Humphreys
Chelsea's new midfielder looks like a younger version of his manager Lampard
Mason Mount has now given his manager two reasons to laugh in as many weeks.
First, the Chelsea midfielder was criticised. And then he scored.
In both instances, Frank Lampard's response was the same.
He chuckled in disbelief.
He recognises the kid's potential. The fledgling manager worked with the fledgling midfielder at Derby Country last season, and the relationship was a fruitful one.
Lampard sees a possible solution to his midfield muddle probably because he sees a younger, dynamic version of himself in Mount.
Naturally, Jose Mourinho sees things differently.
He sees everything differently at the moment, as he morphs into the same grouchy cliche in the pundit's chair that he once ridiculed.
Lampard occupies the position in the Chelsea dugout that Mourinho lost, twice, so the unsubtle digs from a TV studio are to be expected.
But Mourinho's petty attack on Mount two weeks ago was cheap and unwarranted. He claimed that the 20-year-old midfielder wasn't ready to face Manchester United and was a reason for Chelsea's defeat.
Both claims were questionable, provoking that exasperated chuckle from Lampard in his post-match interview.
The unsaid message to Mourinho was clear. By all means, criticise Chelsea's poor showing at Old Trafford. But don't pick on the kid.
Don't dampen the spirits of the one performer who not only relishes Lampard's "front-foot" football, but also bears similarities to the club legend.
Mount offers one of the few pathways out of the club's current mess.
With a two-window transfer ban, the Blues face an uncertain journey. Every fixture looks like a banana skin.
Their opponents smell a tired animal in midfield, as Leicester City discovered last Sunday.
But Mount wasn't the weak link.
He was one of Chelsea's only attacking players to stay on message, clearly familiar with the tactical demands of a manager that took him to Derby before bringing him back to the Bridge.
Mount's fine goal, the first of his Chelsea career, might have vindicated Lampard had he been desperate for vindication.
But he isn't. He's fully aware of the Englishman's eagerness to shoot on sight.
When he was on loan at Vitesse Arnhem, Mount scored 14 times in 39 games. He was only a teen.
The midfielder was scoring more often than he was shaving.
Even at Derby, he found the net 11 times, ensuring that Lampard was the least surprised when Mount gave Chelsea the lead at Stamford Bridge.
PUNCHED THE AIR
But he still punched the air and grinned at his coaching staff, almost giggling, as Mount rewarded his manager's faith.
Somewhere, in front of a TV screen, Mourinho was struggling with this bizarre turn of events, the foolhardy notion of Chelsea persevering with promising talents rather than finished articles.
Mount wouldn't have finished so decisively for Mourinho. He wouldn't have been picked in the first place.
But Lampard is spared the agony of choice. He doesn't suffer with selection headaches.
Limited squads almost require unlimited patience.
But Mount's selection isn't an indulgence. He plays on merit.
The midfielder displayed the tenacious persistence of a young Lampard when he stole possession from a dithering Wilfred Ndidi and slipped a smart finish underneath Kasper Schmeichel.
Indeed, two Schmeichel saves denied Mount a hat-trick in what proved to be a memorable home debut.
He joined the Chelsea academy at six and obviously paid attention in class.
His boundless energy and love of the tackle makes Mount well-suited to Lampard's game plan.
Ironically, Chelsea's midfield did make Lampard's high-pressing football difficult to maintain for 90 minutes, but the newcomer wasn't the guilty culprit.
If anything, Mount looked the most mature. Operating on the left side of a five-man midfield, he was the only Chelsea performer to come close to matching the industry of Leicester's James Maddison.
Jorginho and N'Golo Kante remain a couple of square pegs fighting over the same square hole and Christian Pulisic still looks like a handsome, tailored groom who's wandered into the wrong wedding.
Lampard has a history of the "two-into-one" midfielder conundrum.
The Steven Gerrard-Frank Lampard England debate will haunt the dullest Three Lions conversations forever.
But he has a similar personnel dilemma to fix now with Jorginho and Kante. That's the real issue in Chelsea's midfield.
Mount's selection is the least of his worries.
Mourinho can mock from a TV studio, but in a depleted dressing room, Lampard has little option but to back his youngsters.
Luckily, he can mount a campaign with his kid from the academy.
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