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Frank Lampard Defends Mason Mount, Chelsea Squad After Jose Mourinho Criticism

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2019

Chelsea's English head coach Frank Lampard (L) shakes hands with Chelsea's English midfielder Mason Mount (R) on the pitch at the final whistle in the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 11, 2019. - Manchester United won the game 4-0. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Frank Lampard was left surprised by his former manager Jose Mourinho singling out Mason Mount and several other young players at Chelsea after the Blues lost 4-0 to Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.

Mourinho, who had spells in charge of both the Blues and Red Devils, watched the game at Old Trafford as a pundit for Sky Sports. After the match, he gave a damning indictment of the lack of experience in Lampard's starting XI (h/t Richard Fay of the Manchester Evening News): "A little bit of experience would fit well with the team. Look at the performance of Mason Mount, of Tammy Abraham, [Andreas] Christensen even, for matches of this dimension you need a little bit more."

Lampard hit back when it was his turn to speak in front of the cameras: "He didn’t like the performance of Mason Mount? Is that what he said?! I can’t drag people out of the medical room to play. We were clearly the better team but we made individual errors. Not concerned about what anyone else says. I believe in this squad."

The Chelsea boss, who won two titles as a player under Mourinho's tutelage, doubled down on his praise for Mount when speaking to club's official television channel (h/t Goal's Nizaar Kinsella):

Nizaar Kinsella @NizaarKinsella

Lampard on Chelsea TV: "I thought Mason Mount was really good when we were on top for the first 45-60 minutes. Really good, really bright and continued that throughout the game." #CFC #MUFC #MUNCHE

Lampard's hands were tied somewhat when it came to picking his first team for his Premier League debut in the dugout. The 41-year-old wasn't able to call on forward Willian and centre-back Antonio Rudiger, who are both working their way back to full fitness.

Even so, Lampard did appear to lean on youth where he could. His support of Mount makes sense since the 20-year-old worked with him on loan at Championship side Derby County last season.

Yet Lampard also trusted 21-year-old Tammy Abraham to lead the line at centre-forward at the expense of Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman is move proven at this level and is 11 years Abraham's senior.

Lampard also gave Emerson Palmieri, 25, the start at left-back ahead of 28-year-old Marcos Alonso.

Those decisions weren't vindicated by what turned into a heavy defeat after a positive start for the visitors. Chelsea moved the ball quickly and imaginatively between the lines and created a host of promising chances early on.

Luck wasn't on the side of Lampard's men, though, with both Abraham and Palmieri hitting the woodwork:

Goal @goal

No team hit the woodwork more times in the Premier League last season than Chelsea (21). No team hit the woodwork more times in the PL this weekend than Chelsea (2). #MUNCHE https://t.co/xcNUBu6vqK

The near misses are probably what encourages Lampard to keep faith in the options at his disposal, despite the humbling loss.

Chelsea FC @ChelseaFC

Lampard: 'The fans saw a team trying to do the right things, which is why they were receptive to us at the end. We don't want to lose 4-0 and it does hurt but it wasn't a normal 4-0 defeat.' #MUNCHE

Fixing the obvious problems, such as the defensive frailties United routinely exposed, won't be easy, though. A transfer ban means Lampard won't be able to bolster talent this winter, leaving him to rely on getting more from what he has.

Chelsea's defence will improve with Rudiger back in the lineup, and Mourinho is not wrong to talk up the value of falling back on experience. The Blues hardly stayed strong once United clicked into gear on the break.

Conceding two goals in as many second-half minutes hinted at fragility Lampard will know his team can't afford in big matches. His players being able to turn to a battle-tested veteran for authority and calm would help.

N'Golo Kante could provide those things once he's able to start for 90 minutes. The midfield destroyer was limited to a 17-minute cameo as he works his way toward peak fitness.

Chelsea will have easier days than a trip to the red half of Manchester, but Lampard's fidelity to youth will cost the Blues more points while they wait for Mount and Abraham to mature into trusted match-winners at this level.