Chelsea, after finishing a disappointing 12th in an eminently forgettable Premier League marred by a spate of injuries and frequent hiring and firing of coaches are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to revive their fortunes in the forthcoming season.
Appointing Maurico Pochettino has been the first step in arresting the slide and the hard taskmaster he is, the Argentinian hit the straps early by asking the Blues to undergo a Gacon test, as part of assessing the fitness and physical ability of the team.
For the layman’s knowledge a Gacon test is the one where players are asked to cover 150M in 45sec, which is followed by 15 sec of rest before the next the test is done again. 6.25M of running distance is added after every rest of 45sec.
Georges Gacon the former French national team manager of middle-distance race runners who had later served as fitness trainer with Ligue 1 club Marseille, is the pioneer of the Gacon test.
The main purpose of doing the Gacon test at Stamford Bridge was to avoid the last season’s fiasco where as many as 46 players suffered different injuries over a period of time.
And as the players were put to the gruelling test, everyone expected Connor Gallagher to top the test as the Englishman is one of the quickest and most among the Blues.
Also, with so much uncertainty hanging over his future at Stamford Bridge, especially with transfer rumours linking him to other Premier League clubs like Brighton, it was expected that Gallagher would top the test so that he can impress Pochettino, who according to insiders, is not a big fan of Gallagher.
But to the surprise of many, it was Ben Chilwell, who emerged on top, even putting the likes of Reece James and Raheem Sterling behind.
With intermittent running ability and aerobic fitness among the players being the yardstick, Chilwell, who is not a natural athlete, was indeed a surprise to top the chart.
The likes of Sterling and James are known to be much better when it comes to possessing the above-mentioned attributes, but it was Chilwell who topped the Pochettino test at Stamford Bridge, much to the surprise of fans who expressed their feelings on social media.
“Wow, Ben Chilwell actually performed well? That’s a shocker! It’s like finding a diamond in a pile of garbage,” commented a fan on Twitter.
Though there is no doubt about Chilwell’s football skills, his fitness and endurance has always been under scanner and so it was indeed a surprise to see him come on top on the test initiated by Pochettino, who is known for his hard-pressing game, for which physical exertion is a must.
Chelsea begin their preparations for the new season with a pre-season tour of the US. They begin their campaign at home with a high-voltage against Liverpool on August 13.
Having put his players through the Gacon test, Pochettino will be expecting much better from his wards and Chilwell will definitely be taking that confidence of winning the test as he steps on to the soccer pitch.