Mason Mount had an incredible season for Derby County in his first spell in the Championship and deserves all the credit he has since received. Equally, he deserves to be given his chance to play for a top Premier League club like Chelsea.
After finding pockets of space between midfielders and defenders, a goal on his debut, a hat-trick, assists galore and a goal in the 4-2 win in the away leg of the play-off semi-final against Leeds United to take the Rams to Wembley… Mount pretty much did it all and more in his first season in black and white.
During his lengthy injury in the winter, Frank Lampard’s Derby endured their worst run of the campaign. On his return, they got straight back to winning ways against Rotherham United which was no coincidence.
Why, then, do I not believe Derby are missing Mount more than any other player they had last season?
Because I believe they miss another Chelsea man more. Fikayo Tomori also did it all too: clean sheets, last-ditch crunching tackles, three clearances off the line, two goals and even an own goal.
Derby supporters didn’t belt out ‘you’ll never beat Tomori’ from the south stand for no reason. They, pretty much, believed that no striker was ever going to take on the 21-year-old.
Derby miss him more because of their lack of pace, presence and quality in defence.
Matt Clarke – who signed on loan from Brighton in a move many fans saw as a direct replacement for Tomori – hasn’t performed to the same level.
So many times, this season, Derby have been caught out by long balls over the top and through the back line that the current defenders simply can’t catch up to.
Stoke City away, Bristol City at home and, more recently, Brentford away are three examples of games where Derby have failed to deal with pace and were made to be punished.
Now, the Rams have been forced to push Krystian Bielik back into centre-back where is undoubtedly wasted.
His quality on the ball, vision, and forward thinking is restricted in the deeper role and the club are seriously missing out.
With Keogh out for the foreseeable future, Tomori is a greater miss than Mount.
The Rams will have Rooney at the club in January who will fill in the number 10 role to great effect. There is very little chance of Derby finding anyone near as talented as Tomori in January.
Derby are lacking in creativity and are severely missing everything Mount brought to the club last year, but with everything that has happened this season so far, you can’t help but feel like – of the two – Derby would rather have retained Tomori.