The World Cup is over, players are back from their holidays and the new season is just a few weeks away. As of now, we are right in the middle of what can be called "Friendly Season."
In the grand scheme of things, friendly games count for little as they are exactly that, friendlies (though there have been known to be occasions where these games have been distinctly "unfriendly"). That's not to say however, that they should be written off completely.
Players use friendlies to help return to fitness and so they can be sharp come the start of the new season. New signings can use the games as a chance to get used to playing with their new teammates and foreign tours can prove useful bonding experiences for squads.
Youth players can get their first taste of playing with the first team. Many of the players who have featured in Chelsea's preseason games thus far have come through Chelsea's youth set-up.
Managers are able to experiment with teams and formations, find out what works and what doesn't in a manner they wouldn't possibly be allowed to do during the normal season.
For the fans, friendly matches can be a chance to get to see new players who have signed for the club and possibly see some of the younger players in action for the first time.
Clubs as a whole will use friendlies as a great marketing tool. In recent years, Chelsea has constantly toured through Asia, USA, and this year in Europe. The purpose of this is to grow the Chelsea 'brand' and establish greater revenue streams throughout the world.
Performance is always the most important thing in friendlies, but its always nice to win. Chelsea defeating AC Milan 5-0 in 2008 didn't count for much in the long run but that didn't make it any less enjoyable.
And sometimes in friendly games, there is a trophy to be won. I have fond memories of Chelsea defeating Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in 1993 to win the Makita Cup. Since then, I have seen Chelsea win such illustrious prizes as the Umbro Cup, the Premier League Asia Trophy, and last year, the World Challenge Cup.
On August 8th, Chelsea will be playing in what some call the most glorified friendly of them all, the Community Shield. Chelsea will play Manchester United for the third time in four years and fifth time overall, to claim not only the Shield but also early season bragging rights.
Friendlies are not important overall, but can still be both entertaining and useful games to have.