Close-season tournaments are imperfect guides to what might happen when there is something important at stake, but even a competition like the Umbro International tournament can send the winners into the campaign proper with boosted confidence.
It was Everton who were most in need of that as Howard Kendall began his third term at Goodison Park with the chance not many managers get - to collect some silverware after only two matches in charge. Everton showed the sort of commitment so often missing last season, but in the end it was Chelsea, and their expensive international talent, who had the class. The injury to Alan Shearer has dominated the headlines in this tournament, but it was Chelsea's two Italian strikers, Gianluca Vialli and Gianfranco Zola, who won it.
Chelsea began the more brightly and should have taken the lead when Vialli's flick-on presented Mark Nicholls with a sitter he could not convert. Vialli himself should have done better than scoop the ball over the bar after Everton defenders twice failed to clear the ball.
But the introduction at halftime of Gary Speed, scorer of the winner against Ajax on Saturday, and Duncan Ferguson brought the penetration Everton had been lacking. John Oster rattled the crossbar, Franck Leboeuf had to deny Graham Stuart and Dennis Wise headed clear from Slaven Bilic on the goal-line.
But just when English endeavour seemed to be gaining the ascendancy over foreign fluency, Paul Hughes touched the ball through a square back four to allow Vialli to guide it past Paul Gerrard.
There were times last season when that sort of blow against the flow would have knocked Everton out of their stride, but Kendall will take comfort from the way his new charges stuck to the job and were rewarded when Ferguson's powerful header flew past Ed de Goey.
Chelsea's Italian strike force is so sharp, however, that allowing them a half-chance can prove fatal, and this Gerrard did when he could only deflect the ball to Zola, who thumped it back past him.
Even then Everton might have come back had not Wise again cleared off the line from Stuart, but Zola sealed it for Chelsea in the dying seconds, dribbling across the area before placing a low shot beyond Gerrard.
Everton (4-3-2-1): Gerrard; Unsworth, Hinchcliffe (Bilic, 2), Short, Grant (Speed, h-t); O'Connor, Farrelly, Oster, Stuart, McCann (Barmby, 77); Branch (Ferguson, h-t).
Chelsea (4-4-2): De Goey; Sinclair, LeBoeuf, Clarke, Granville; Petrescu (P Hughes, 65), Nicholls (Wise, h-t), Morris, Di Matteo; Vialli, Zola.
Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).Reuse content