Petr Cech believes our fortnight in Asia during pre-season will be crucial in our preparations for the 2013/14 campaign.
The goalkeeper, who visited Asia on tour with Chelsea twice previously, in 2008 and 2011, says he is always impressed by the turnout of local support, and hopes to harness that to begin the new season in the best possible way.
‘Pre-season is the most important part of the year,’ says the goalkeeper. ‘It’s where you make the base for the season ahead, and you need to be ready from day one. You can’t do it again during the season, it’s too late.
‘You have to get the squad gelled and in the best condition possible when the season starts. During the season the match fitness grows but your physical state is simply maintained from the start of pre-season.
‘It’s also the time when the team is together for the longest time, everybody is there and you have time to get to know any new people. The new manager can get to know people and work with them over those few weeks, so it’s where you create a team.’
We will play games in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta in July, a time when the local weather creates challenging playing conditions.
‘Pre-season is about physical preparation and the weather doesn’t make it easy because we are not used to the heat and humidity which can be there. But when you have a game in front of so many thousand people in the stadium, it’s great for you.
‘More than 80,000 people last time we were in Kuala Lumpur, for a friendly game, was amazing to see,’ Cech admitted. ‘That’s why we keep coming back. The fan base has grown so fast that we have full stadiums for the games, and you can see the enthusiasm of the people everywhere you go.
‘At the moment, the standard of the Premier League is above what they have in Asia, but they are improving, and in terms of facilities we have always got what we needed, and it has worked for us.’
– Tickets for our pre-season matches in Bangkok on 17 July, Kuala Lumpur on 21 July and Jakarta on 25 July are now on sale.
– You can add your photo to our tour Blue Flag.