May 22 2013 Latest news:
Paul Lagan, London24 Chelsea blogger
Monday, June 18, 2012
“Club’s plying their trade in the Europa League are considered also-rans, not the real deal, and having that label attached to Chelsea would be a very hard pill to swallow”
While Frank Lampard and Christine Bleakley have been snapped on some flash Mediterranean resort, chilling out until the start of pre-season training, some of his Chelsea colleagues have been going hard at it at the Euros 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.
As the final group matches take place today and tomorrow, it's a fair shout that the European club champions will be heavily represented in the later stages of the tournament.
Its yet to be seen the effect this will have on those Blues players when they finally start the new campaign.
Finishing sixth in the league last season has largely been overlooked by dint of the club wining the Champions League.
Since Chelsea is a business and not a charity, it was essential that the club remained Europe's premier competition for a number of reasons.
The millions of pounds they could have lost would not have made a dent in Roman Abramovich's loose change dangling in his back pocket. Of course it would easily have bought another Fernando Torres in the January transfer window (if needed and frankly, do we need another Nando?)
Of greater loss would have been the damage done to brand Chelsea.
Club's plying their trade in the Europa League are considered also-rans, not the real deal, and having that label attached to Chelsea would be a very hard pill to swallow. Sponsors, while taking great joy from recent domestic successes, really do need Champions League exposure to fully justify the premier rate demanded by Chelsea to have their logo adorn the club's shirts and other merchandise.
And boy did the lads come good right at the end.
But sponsors are commercial entities and while they may accept the odd blip, they won't tolerate any period of prolonged period of damage.
So they will be expecting Chelsea to continue of their odyssey of success, and Roman and the top brass will be expecting the lads to deliver on the field so they can deliver off it.
Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea's latest incumbent in the manager's hot seat won't have long to prepare for the season and will be heading off to the US for a four-match pilgrimage to the dollar which starts on July 18.
Then it's back home, and before you know it, the Super Cup and Community Shield will have been played and it's all-go for the first game of the season.
By the time you read this, the new season's fixture list will be out and you will already know who the Blues will face in the opening exchanges.
If Chelsea are to avoid another humiliating league season and a potentially costly one to boot, they really do need to hit the ground running.
There is no way they can seriously factor in winning the Champions League to bolster the coffers.
They must finish considerably higher than fourth.
This will be the primary task handed to Di Matteo.
To that end, he will be hoping that his squad will be fit, to be rested and most importantly motivated for the season.
But just how fit will the players be? Well, by and large they should all return to training in good shape. They will have been given a training schedule and the days of piling on the pounds should be a thing of the past for these ultra-professionals.
Will they be motivated? It's fair to assume that winning the Champions League has taken the monkey off the back of some of the more seasoned players. The new boys will want to emulate last season's success.
Will they be rested? Well thats the biggie.
As I said earlier, as we head into the final stages of Euro 2012, there are still plenty of Chelsea boys on show.
Petr Cech and Raul Meireles are still going strong for the Czech Republic and Portugal while the England boys - John Terry and Ashley Cole will be looking to extend their stays tomorrow along with France's Florent Malouda.
Tonight we will know if Torres and Juan Mata are heading to the beach or whether they will be going for Euro glory.
Either way, when the tournament finishes on July 1, there is a fair chance that at least one of our boys will still be kicking the football in anger.
While all the Chelsea lads at the Euros will get a break and return to pre-season training later than the non-participants, it still means a curtailed recovery period.
So will Chelsea be ready to hit the ground running? Will Chelsea improve significantly on last seasons performances?
Andre Villas-Boas thought that he was impervious of the sack. He cited the enormous amount of money Roman spent on getting his release from Porto as some kind of immunity.
His naivety was his ultimate undoing.
Now Di Matteo is of different stock. Not only is he a former Chelsea player, and thus knows a thing or two about its history is he also married to a good London gal.
When I say London, I of course mean, a gal from just a couple of miles down the Kings Road.
He may be employed by Chelsea but, I'm reliably informed, he's married into a Chelsea-supporting family.
Di Matteo will want to succeed for many reasons, if one man can overcome the odds of a fatigued squad and prepare them for the rigours of the opening matches of the season its Robbie. If one man will be reminded day in, day out about what it's like to be responsible for the happiness of the Chelsea fan base, it's certainly Robbie.
If Roman doesnt remind, him, his in-laws probably will.