Three days before we begin the Barclays Premier League season, assistant first team coach Steve Holland provides an update on the training schedule as players return from their national teams.
The squad arrived back from America on Sunday, having beaten Roma 2-1 in Washington DC on Saturday night thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s injury-time winner.
‘We were pleased to finish well and hopefully that’s a good sign for the season, the manner in which we won the game,’ Holland said.
‘We could easily have been happy with a draw against Roma, that wouldn’t have been a disaster, but we pushed and pushed until the end, made some tactical adjustments with Lukaku coming on with Demba Ba, and got a goal in injury time.
‘Across the season the team that wins the championship usually has characteristics like that, it’s a trait where you go to the end and win games late, so that was a good note to finish on.’
Upon arrival at London’s Gatwick Airport, most players immediately departed for international duty before reconvening at Cobham this morning for three days of training before we host Hull City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
‘It’s far from ideal, but we have to manage it as best we can,’ Holland said. ‘Playing on Sunday at 4pm is a slight help for sure, that extra day to prepare is everything and we will carefully watch players after seeing their match minutes on Wednesday, and see how they present themselves.
‘Thursday is a very light recovery session, having some conversations and seeing how people feel. Friday will be a second day of recovery, stepping up and doing some work, and then Saturday is the session before the game and we have to be careful with what is done then, but the bulk of the work is already done in pre-season, and it’s now a case of fine-tuning some specifics for Hull on Friday and Saturday.’
Sunday’s game comes just three days before we meet Aston Villa, a game rescheduled due to our involvement in the UEFA Super Cup. Despite that, Holland stressed that so far nobody is thinking any further ahead than Sunday.
‘The full focus is on Hull, there is no thought of anything other than giving ourselves the best chance of getting three points from the first game,’ he said. ‘We’re expecting a difficult opener, I remember being here in Carlo Ancelotti’s first match four years ago, where we won the game late on.
‘The teams that come up, when you play them early, they still have a feel-good factor from the season before, and are used to winning. They’re full of confidence, have new players and have hope and excitement, so they can be dangerous and we’ll have to be ready for sure.’