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Mason Mount To Take Cristiano Ronaldo’s Number

Mason Mount’s public relations are handled by the same group that oversaw Cristiano Ronaldo’s posts during his final months at Manchester United.

Ronaldo’s divorce was so acrimonious a request was made for United not to provide a specific briefing on his exit strategy. United were later depicted as a dysfunctional football club by allies of Ronaldo as if the grass was greener at the footballing might of Al-Nassr.

Now, Mount has inherited Ronaldo’s number. It was the best way to offset the widely criticised farewell video Mount recorded so long ago that he had different hair colour.

Sincerity is scary, The 1975 sing. Mount told Chelsea fans, “I feel you deserve more than just a written statement”. He then proceeded to read a statement that many suspect will have been written.

Mount’s goodbye was an inaccurate representation of the player when his personality was cited as key to Erik ten Hag identifying him as the prime choice to freshen up the United midfield.

That personality shone through in a sit-down with Amelia Dimoldenberg, the YouTube sensation behind the Chicken Shop Date series, and when Mount greeted United fans privileged to be on-site at Carrington.

Those on the England beat have described Mount as affable and a willing talker. United’s communications department will make Mount accessible.

Mount is deserving of a grateful hand back at Stamford Bridge, having helped the club to a Champions League and a maiden Club World Cup. He cannot be as assured of the warmth that was afforded Juan Mata, though.

A nine-year-old Mount was in the away end at Old Trafford in January 2008 to witness Ronaldo’s physics-defying free-kick as a nine-year-old. As a junior at Chelsea, Mount confidently addressed the camera and said, “I try to place my free-kicks like Ronaldo.”

United were better with Ronaldo in their squad last term and improved without him. They are still yet to replace the Ronaldo of his homecoming season – 24 goals (two hat-tricks) in 36 games – and Mount cannot fill that void. United need a striker to, at the very least, consolidate their progress under Ten Hag.

Mount should return to Carrington today for his first session with his new teammates. Those who drove through the barriers on Monday are all continuing rehabilitation from injury.

Anthony Martial was conspicuous by his absence. He tore his hamstring just over five weeks ago and Ten Hag forecast a “long” recovery. With Martial’s infamously long lay-offs, he could still be unavailable when the clocks go back.

Or maybe Martial will be clocked on Birch Road this morning. It is a dire state that he could be the only senior striker available to Ten Hag five days before United’s first pre-season fixture against Leeds in Oslo.

The alternatives are Joe Hugill, Charlie McNeill, Mateo Mejia and Noam Emeran. Hardly names that roll off the tongue. Pre-season plans will be awry if Mount glances up and is tasked with servicing any of them across United’s pre-season schedule.

As cumbersome as Ronaldo was in his last 16 outings for United, he still eked more goals than the dismal Wout Weghorst. Weghorst’s two goals in his 31 appearances were both on the rebound with the goalkeeper prone. He reacted to his final miss – a sliced volley – by glancing at the Stretford Enders and shaking his head mournfully.

United can do without an identical start to last season when they lined up against Brighton without a centre forward (Martial was, of course, injured) and Christian Eriksen was at the apex of the attack. They trudged back down the tunnel 2-0 down and lost 2-1, their only goal an own goal.

The day was compounded by the ill-advised bid for the Bologna forward Marko Arnautovic. That mooted deal outraged United matchgoers and thousands wrote to the club threatening to cancel their season tickets. United swiftly withdrew their interest.

 

Evening Post

 

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