Mason Mount fires stoked by Ten Hag to incur Chelsea fan wrath in timely boost for Todd Boehly

Will Ford
Mason Mount Chelsea Man Utd
Mason Mount is set for a nightmare return to Chelsea with Manchester United.

Mason Mount can’t be too happy with Erik ten Hag’s comments ahead of his return to Stamford Bridge, but Todd Boehly will be absolutely delighted having received an unlikely boost in the PR war.

Just over a year ago, ahead of Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa, fans in the Mathew Harding Stand unfurled a banner featuring Mason Mount holding the Champions League trophy, along with the message: ‘The boy who had a dream”. On Thursday, Mount faces a nightmare return to Stamford Bridge.

The tifo split opinion among Chelsea fans. Some were confused as to why a player embroiled in a contract dispute with the club, who had failed to produce anything of note in the season to that point was being honoured, while N’Golo Kante – set to depart after seven years of excellent service – hadn’t been. Others wanted to show their support for an academy graduate who clearly wasn’t feeling the love of the fanbase despite being named Player of the Year for two years on the bounce.

That support ultimately wasn’t enough for Mount, who joined Manchester United for £55m in the summer, riding a wave of discontent, seemingly from everyone involved in the process, but most of all the fans, the majority of whom by that point were more than happy to see the back of him; pleased with his pure profit sale that would allow them to buy Lesley Ugochukwu and Robert Sanchez.

The belief was that Mount’s move to United was motivated by money as reports claimed the England international had been offered a new deal on a number of occasions but had rebuffed those attempts to keep him at the club. There’s now little doubt that cash was indeed king, for Chelsea.

Selling academy graduates was, and still is, key to Todd Boehly and Clearlake’s business plan. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ethan Ampadu were all sold last summer. They accepted an offer for Ian Maatsen, who was eventually sent on loan in January, like Armando Broja, whom they also wanted to see the back of.

As Mount was the highest-profile departee it made PR sense for the Chelsea owners to claim it was his decision to leave the club rather what is almost certainly the actual case given the trend in youth product sales that sees Conor Gallagher as next on the chopping block, that Mount was pushed towards the exit. The 25-year-old said as much when he joined United.

“I think, over the last several months, it became clear that I wasn’t in the plans moving forward [at Chelsea] and, once I knew that United was involved, my decision was made up.”

It was far easier during that ‘PR war’ to side with the owners. Despite the trevails of the previous season, the chequebooks were out again and the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino was widely viewed as a smart one. They were ushering in the new Chelsea dawn (second time’s a charm), and anyone that didn’t want to be a part of that was a judas, with a move to Manchester United among the most traitorous. It didn’t matter what Mount said in the minds of those Chelsea fans – traitors are also renowned liars.

Mount Chelsea
Mason Mount left Chelsea under a cloud in the summer.

Even though many of those same fans have turned against the club owners amid another disastrous season, in which their lack of respect for the values of Chelsea Football Club and its brilliant youth system have become increasingly evident, Mount can expect widespread disdain from the supporters when he takes to the field on Thursday, in no small part thanks to his manager, who did a superb job of stoking the flames in his pre-match press conference.

“I don’t think they wanted to sell him [Mount]. They wanted to keep him and offered him a new contract many times. But he wanted to make this step.”

Even if it is true – which we doubt – it’s incredible that Ten Hag thought that was a prudent comment to make ahead of Mount’s return to Stamford Bridge. Presumably he thinks it’s of some benefit to him, the club or Mount himself to have the Red Devils fans believing he knocked back contract offers from a big club in Chelsea to join an even bigger club in Manchester United. But all but the most blindsided of supporters will find that hard to believe.

All Ten Hag has done is draw the attention of the Blues fans, further entrenching them in the belief that Mount turned his back on them despite contrary evidence that has built up against the club owners before and after he left the club. Few will have been more delighted by the United manager’s comments than Todd Boehly.

The Chelsea fans aren’t averse to booing current members of their team, let alone a perceived back-stabber like Mason Mount, who was always set for an uncomfortable evening back at his boyhood club, one made far more uncomfortable by the comments of his tone deaf manager.

READ MORE: Conor Gallagher next? Ranking all 10 academy products to swap Big Six clubs