I confess I can be a frustrating person to get along with. For example, my wife is often exasperated when I obscure whether I am being enthusiastically sarcastic or simply enthusiastic. Being the garbage person that I am, I enjoy the confusion to the point I often can’t tell either. It’s a character flaw. What follows is either an enthusiastically sarcastic or simply enthusiastic prelude to Chelsea’s participation in the 2017 International Champions Cup. I honestly don’t know at this point which it is.
Not everyone will agree with me on this, but preseason losses are some the most depressing. A supporter goes from the highest optimism (“This is going to be our year!”) to the lowest pessimism (“These ***********, ************* ****heads can’t even ******* beat the ********* Ulaanbaatar XI. I’m going for a long walk in the woods…”) over the course of 90 minutes and 22 substitutions.
My lowest point as a Chelsea fan wasn’t the atrocious title defense of 2015/16, the agony of the 2008 Champions League Final, or the night in 2009 that Tom Henning Ovrebo became a Barcelona legend, but the 2012 preseason loss to the MLS All-Stars. That loss surely must have been a catalyst for change because Gary Cahill is the only Chelsea player still at the club from that fateful day. Perhaps the biggest embarrassment of that loss is who scored the goals against the Blues: Chris Wondolowski of Dare to Wondo fame; Chris Pontius, America’s second most famous Chris Pontius; and Eddie Johnson, best known overseas as a striker who scored twice for Cardiff City in 30 appearances. But it was preseason, one might say, and it does not mean anything. Consider, however, that the loss foretold the bizarre 2012/13 season when Rafa Benitez was the Interim One.
There is probably no correlation between preseason form and final league standing, but I’ll leave that for the nerds to research. Who cares about research when there is the 2017 International Champions Cup (Singapore) to be won!? I love winning. I don’t care about possession, heat maps, playing the youth, xG, preseason fitness, or style. I care about the scoreboard at the end of 90 minutes, the truest reflection of worth. Chelsea cannot be considered a great club until they have won the International Champions Club. Chelsea have never won the ICC despite participating in 3 of the last 4 tournaments, but I have a good feeling about this year. I still am smarting from Chelsea making the final in 2013 only to fall to a Cristiano Ronaldo brace. This time it will be different though. This time Chelsea will be bringing back the ICC (Singapore) to the museum at Stamford Bridge for pilgrims to admire for generations.
“Wait a second,” you might say, “I thought the ICC was in the United States.” It is. But it’s also in Australia. And China. And now Singapore too for the first time. And each location has its own winner. This is how Real Madrid managed to win two ICC trophies in 2015 when they participated in the Australia and China tournaments. Personally, I’m disappointed Chelsea aren’t participating in more than one ICC tournament and can only win one this summer. A victory in the inaugural ICC (Singapore), however, would be remembered and recognized by all future participants in the greatest showcase of preseason friendlies in the world.
The Singapore competition kicks off on July 25th when Chelsea faces Bayern Munich in the first of 3 games in the competition. Narrative: A replay of the 2012 Champions League final which was written in the stars; so, it’s a grudge match. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it is just a preseason game and fitness is the priority. Wrong. Winning the ICC (Singapore) and inflicting more pain and heartbreak on the Bavarians is the priority.
The second match will see Munich and Inter Milan compete on the 27th. Narrative: This is, for all intents and purposes, the second place match.
The third and culminating fixture of the 2017 ICC (Singapore) will see the Nerazzuri take on the mighty Chelsea. Narrative: Conte gets the season off to a winning start by bringing home the first trophy of the season. Chelseas will then square off with Arsenal for (literally) the biggest prize in English football: the Charity Shield. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THE CHARITY SHIELD.
Bonus: Spotify playlist of the official songs of ICC tournaments, World Cups, and European Championships to get you PSYCHED. Official songs are the best songs. Everyone knows that.