Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – just some of the social media channels that have given fans a platform to speak about their club and become part of the football community. Yet, are some young players, such as Chelsea Football Club’s Mason Mount, victims of the Twitter trolls’ ‘judge, jury and executioner’ mentality?
The model footballer
The attacking midfielder has racked up 58 Chelsea appearances, nine England caps and 84 loan appearances for Vitesse Arnhem and Derby County respectively, all by the age of 21.
Mount is not arrogant, he is not guilty of unsporting behaviour on the pitch and his private life is far from controversial, so it begs the question; why does he get so much hate?
Strangely, Mount appears to be the victim of his own success as he embodies the hard-working attitude that his managers, Frank Lampard and Gareth Southgate, love and epitomised throughout their careers.
“He should be very happy and proud with what he has done in the last year,” Lampard mentioned in a recent interview with the Chelsea website.
“The thing about Mason is he always wants to be better, and that is a pleasure to work with, and what I want to see is the competition that has arrived at the club around him, that it makes him raise his levels. Mason has a lot more levels to go up in the game.
“‘Mason is a humble lad and has a real dream to play for Chelsea and the thing that makes him special is that he has attacked that dream with the talent he has and made it through pure hard work.
“He has a faultless attitude in terms of how he approaches the game, and that is what has got him into this position so far. He gets picked regularly in the England squad because I know Gareth Southgate and Steve Holland have absolute respect for how he comes and trains and performs for them.”
Mount spent the 2018-19 season on loan at Championship side Derby, managed by Lampard, where he made 45 appearances scoring 11 goals and six assists.
When Lampard returned to Chelsea as manager at the start of the 2019-20 Premier League season, Blues fans finally got their wish of seeing the academy players given a chance and, none saw minutes more so than Mount, who made a staggering 53 appearances.
Having been with Lampard at Derby, and then getting regular minutes in his first full season in the Chelsea first team, the Twitter trolls have become, almost fascinated, with Mount being a ‘teacher’s pet’. Every time he has an average game, makes a mistake or starts over another player, the hateful comments will begin in earnest. It is, in all honesty, odd.
Simon Johnson, Chelsea reporter for The Athletic, summed up the attitude of some ‘fans’ perfectly, where he suggested, “among sections of Chelsea’s global fanbase, his constant presence in the first XI has not been greeted warmly. The vitriol among this group reached new heights when Mount missed a decisive spot kick in the Carabao Cup shootout defeat to Tottenham Hotspur last month. His omission from the Palace fixture was cause for celebration in their eyes”.
Since the international break, you only have to do a quick search of ‘Mason Mount’ on Twitter or look under the comments on posts about England’s selection for a match to see a string of negative tweets or hateful comments.
This torment was added to further when Jack Grealish, man-of-the-match in the 3-0 against Wales, was dropped for the game against Belgium, with Mount starting. This decision by Southgate, yet again, made Mount the number one target for abuse.
Eagle-eyed viewers would have seen that Mount played on the right, a position that was filled by Danny Ings against Wales. It was actually Marcus Rashford who played in the position on the left that Grealish had filled. It is also worth noting that Mount got man-of-the-match and scored the winner.
Football is full of opinions
Some will be reading this and saying, “That’s social media for you and players in the limelight should expect criticism”. Yes, true, there is not a professional player in football, or any sport for that matter, who does not get criticised or has never received hurtful comments at some point in their career. The thing that is hard to understand, is the level of constant outcry over Mount, particularly from the global Chelsea fanbase - the ones who should support him the most.
Can a fan like Grealish and also like Mount? Yes. Can a fan be upset with a starting eleven that a manager has chosen? Yes, everyone has an opinion. Can a fan criticise a player for a legitimate reason without being personal and abusive? Yes.
Football is full of opinions. It is what makes it ‘The beautiful game’. Every fan has at some point got annoyed and voiced their opinion on a player’s performance or the starting eleven. It is perfectly normal. Yet, the question remains, has anyone got a legitimate reason as to why they dislike Mason Mount so much?