Whilst some may see pre-season tours as a way for footballers to extend their holidays and do a little bit of light exercise in the sunshine whilst fans drag themselves out of bed at ridiculous times in the morning to watch tours of America, not to mention a useful marketing tool, just how far do pre-season results matter in light of the forth coming season?
For a number of Premier League clubs, they will be hoping the answer to the above question is not very much. It is one thing losing by a goal to nil to a giant like AC Milan, but to be outplayed by Brighton when the majority of your first team is on display is something that is quite worrying, and given Chelsea’s form this pre-season, if RDM adopted the squat made so famous by the hapless AVB no one would be surprised.
Likewise, West Ham and Sunderland have been privy to a few less than stellar results, in fact the list goes on and on, with Villa looking less than impressive and Stoke creating little in front of goal on the now mandatory tour of the US – something fans grew concerned about last season.
Obviously if a team has a new manager and a great deal of new payers, it takes time to adjust to the system, and it is common to see fringe players given a chance and mass changes throughout the game. Not to mention the fact that many players at top clubs were involved in the Euros and essentially have has no break this summer, meaning a bit of give and take has to be allowed.
Manchester City however have been playing with a three at the back which includes Savic and Kolo ‘I take diet pills’ Toure and have still managed to clock up some impressive results, yet generally fans tend to disregard the results that their team gets before the opening weekend of the season, with that being the only thing that really matters.
Of course there are multiple examples of teams having god awful pre seasons and then having a fine start to life in the Premier League, where as some teams are almost expected to have a poor start no matter what – Everton are all too used to having a shocker of a start up until about October when they really get going and move their way up the table.
Perhaps the way in which teams play is more noteworthy pre-season, and if chances are being created and the team looks like being on its way to having a solid defence that is enough, with a friendly not having the same intensity of a Premier League game, and thus not really having the same meaning for players.
A third straight defeat however is cause for concern when virtually nothing is being created or defending is littered with school boy errors, and Chelsea more than most have something to be slightly worried about now their pre-season is coming to a close. Should they lose to City in the Charity Shield come next weekend, questions may start to be asked of RDM and with Pep waiting in the wings, no manager can afford a shaky start this season – well Martinez aside – I doubt Pep would be lured to the DW stadium even with the quality of the pies.