One of the big problems with this time of the year is all the football fans judging their teams based on friendly results.
Chelsea lose 4-2 and everyone laughs at them and insults Asmir Begovic. West Ham draw 0-0 and people are calling for Slaven Bilic to be sacked.
Many of the extreme cases aren’t genuine, as I’m sure no one is really going to turn against a manager for drawing in a friendly match, but that doesn’t take away the fact that people take pre-season too seriously.
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Fitness is what the friendlies are all about. They’re not matches, they’re extended training games. It gives players a chance to continue preparation for the new season in a calm and ‘friendly’ match.
As long as you don’t end up losing by seven goals to a pub team the results have no impact on the season or team morale. After a nice long break it gives players a chance to return to the physical and mental sides of the game.
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Many footballers will leave for their summer break and return to a team including five or six players they’ve never met.
These games give players and managers alike the chance to assess where and how the new boys should be used and improves squad cohesion. Experimenting with new players is vital to ensure the team has the right approach come the start of the new season.
Giving youth a chance
The pre match games are a perfect opportunity to throw a few youngsters into the first team and see how they cope with the situation.
You will rarely see a Premier League squad using their first XI in a friendly game, regardless of who their playing. And the best part is they can make all the subs they want, allowing them to field up to two teams in two halves to see which players work together best.
A cheap day out
These matches aren’t just nice and friendly for the teams but for the fans too. Ticket prices are reduced, pressures are removed and the match becomes as much a social occasion as it is a football game.
Fans who usually couldn’t afford to watch their favourite side are given the chance to do exactly that, and often little friendly competitions increase the excitement of the game.
So for all you fans out there who are distraught by the friendly results take a second to put it into perspective. The players simply aren’t as fit or competitive as they will be when the season starts and you simply have to accept that.
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