Preseason Friendlies Still Don't Matter

CHESTER, PA - JULY 25: Fireworks go off as singer Pia Toscano performs the National Anthem before the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game between the MLS All-Stars and Chelsea at PPL Park on July 25, 2012 in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

"For me this was a training session against other players. And no more than that."

It's tempting to play off poor performances and results as irrelevant. Chelsea fans want the club to do well, and they'll play down setbacks in order to go through life a little bit happier. That's the nature of being a supporter. So when someone says 'preseason friendlies don't matter' after a loss it's incredibly easy to dismiss them as simply ignoring danger signs. It's much more difficult to dismiss Jose Mourinho's opinion. That quote, if you haven't guessed, followed Chelsea's previous appearance in the MLS All-Star game, a 1-0 defeat in 2006.

The Blues treat preseason friendlies as glorified training, a way of getting players in match shape while flying the flag elsewhere. Last year we swept through Asia under Andre Villas-Boas, which amounted to... exactly nothing. That is exactly what this tour will mean too. Yes, some players played poorly on Wednesday. But players have poor training sessions fairly frequently, and the manager will mess around with lineups and combinations all the time. The only reason that we're paying attention to the 3-2 loss against the MLS All-Stars is because it was televised.

The goal of preseason is to get players fit, give fringe players some playing time, to sell some Chelsea shirts and to avoid any major injuries. The results in a friendly don't really matter. For established players or superstar newcomers, their performance in friendlies don't really matter. And for the younger guys trying to impress di Matteo... well, when half their teammates are ambling about amusing themselves, it's pretty difficult to play well as well.

So, here's the deal -- when you watch the preseason, take everything with a huge, huge grain of salt (or lots of little grains of salt in a big pile). Chelsea are not match fit. There's no motivation to go all-out. Nor is there any for their opponents. It's a friendly. Chill the flip out. If Chelsea win big, it doesn't matter. If they lose, whatever. If Eden Hazard has a quiet game, don't fret. About the only thing you should be interested in is Roberto di Matteo's experiments in team shape, and that's only because they give an indication of the general tactics we'll be using next season.

Don't get happy. Don't get angry. These friendlies are zero-stress, so they'll be played completely differently to real matches. Watch and analyse, because they can be reasonably interesting. But they're not games anyone should get particularly emotional about.

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