Jose Mourinho said as his second spell as Chelsea manager began that it is down to the players to turn carefully prepared training sessions into great ones, and reports from him since have praised the attitude and application of all involved.
Witnesses to the training in Asia will tell you there is no holding back, with a train-how-you-play approach part of the foundations on which the club’s success in recent times has been built.
John Terry, speaking at the team’s hotel in Kuala Lumpur midway through one of double-training days, confirms standards are being maintained.
‘The training is just how we like it and the manager likes it that way, and it is important you get that competitiveness,’ he tells the official Chelsea website.
‘It is a big pre-season for everyone and everyone wants to be in the team at the start of the season, and that is what we are aiming for.
‘There are new young signings too, they are obviously hungry and with points to prove and they are fighting for places as well, and competition has been very good in training.
‘The new lads have settled in really well and the quality is good, and these trips definitely help that because you are in each other’s pockets all day every day, so it is a great opportunity for them to get to know the other players.’
On a personal note, Terry has been able to give his all for what is often described as one of the most important parts of the year for a professional footballer. The suggestion sometimes made is that a missed or interrupted pre-season makes it difficult to obtain the fitness levels needed during the nine months of competition to follow.
‘I am fit and well,’ the captain reports.
‘I had the injury on my ankle at the end of last season but I came back a week early to get some extra fitness under my belt, and I think that has served me well so far in training.
‘Everyone does their own little thing to stay fit in the summer. You tend to stay off football pitches and mainly do gym work like bikes and treadmills. Everyone keeps themselves ticking over.
‘You can catch up if you don’t have a good pre-season but all the time you are chasing which you don’t want to be doing. The manager plans pre-season so well that you have a couple of really tough days and then you ease off a day. There’s sharpness work and the running and it all serves you well, and if you do miss out early on it definitely affects you in the long run.
‘If you work hard enough and put the work in the manager’s sessions are excellent and the opportunities are there,’ he adds. ‘I think that is why everyone does their own fitness work during the break so that when they do come back pre-season they hit the ground running, but to balance that, it is important you don’t do too much and you do get your rest because when you do come back you work very hard.
‘Even after two or three games of pre-season it will take you another four or five games to really find your feet and your sharpness, but every game and every training session you are always improving and as long as you are noticing that improvement then that is what’s important.’
It is not just on the training pitch and in the games in Asia that the competitive nature of the squad is in evidence. Table tennis has continued to be the sideshow of the tour with tables next to the dining room in the hotel in both Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.
‘I played table tennis a little when I was younger and quite a few of the boys are quite handy actually. Maybe we will add it to our training ground competitions,’ Terry suggests.
It does already form part of the goalkeepers’ reflex training with a table available in the gym at Cobham. Juan Mata and Oriol Romeu frequently take advantage of it, so it could be assumed they are the best table tennis players at the club.
‘You ask them, I beat Juan and Oriol last year,’ points out Terry. ‘We will do a competition and see who’s the best.’