The season has barely ended, but most of us are already bored of a weekend without club football (what Champions league?) and anticipating the new season already.
After two years ago tearing up both coasts in the United States and last summer taking a rather disastrous tour through Germany, Chelsea will return to Asia this July in between brief stops in the Netherlands and Scotland.
Our new manager will have the chance to test his tactics first against Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem, where two of our academy boys, keeper Matej Delač and defender Slobodan Rajković have been on loan. The match takes place on July 9th at the GelreDome, a few days after the team returns to training.
Next up will be a match on July 16th against Portsmouth at Fratton Park for the first time since we beat Avram Grant's former team in the FA Cup Final last year. Pompey finished 16th in the Championship, so we won't be meeting them again after this unless it's in a cup tie.
The Blues then head to Asia for a couple of friendlies and a go at the Asia Cup. In a nice, simple list-formation, here are the matches:
July 21st against Malaysia XI
July 24th against Thailand Allstars
July 27th against Kitchee in the Asia Trophy
July 29th/30th against Aston Villa or Blackburn in the Asia Trophy
The Asia 2008 trip was fairly successful, drawing big crowds and some big scores (a 7-0 against Chengdu Blades comes to mind). We played the Malaysia XI then as well, winning 2-0 with a then-rare Ashley Cole goal on the scoresheet. That match drew 60,000 fans, so there should be another big turnout this time around.
Finally, since there is no Community Shield to be bothered with to start the season (grumble grumble), we have a friendly against Glasgow Rangers scheduled at Ibrox on August 6th. Our last friendly against Rangers was a 2-0 loss in 2007, but our friendly (in a match sense and a supporters sense) history goes back to the mid-'80s. The match was played to raise money for the Bradford fire appeal, and Chelsea fans took to the fact that Rangers were singing and condemning the IRA and the bombing campaign in England. They all got on so well and the gesture was so appreciated that the Chelsea fans applauded the Rangers fans as they left the stadium. We'll see if the good spirit can continue.
I know the season has just ended, but really... is the football on yet?