In this corner of Asia, Chelsea are not a big draw
Wednesday 20 July 2011
They put their heart and sweat into it, none more so than the member of Chelsea's backroom staff who dressed up as Stamford the Lion and pranced around Bukit Jalil in stifling humidity with rather too much fur than was good for him. Even the Chelsea chief executive, Ron Gourlay, walked around the stadium tossing copies of the club's tour brochure to supporters.
However, the fact remains that in this corner of Asia Chelsea are less of a draw than Liverpool, the club that has not won a championship since 1990. Some 38,000 came to Malaysia's national stadium to watch Kenny Dalglish oversee training on Friday. There were about a 10th of that number here last night.
In a country that outwardly appears obsessed with success that might seem strange. Mainly, it is because Malaysia, like Hong Kong and Thailand – where Chelsea also travel this summer – began their obsession with English football in the years when league titles rarely left Anfield.
Liverpool's history is something Chelsea, who have eclipsed the Anfield club domestically in the Roman Abramovich years, cannot match. Yet their commitment to Malaysia seems genuine enough with long-term coaching and development plans already in place and the tour proceeding under the banner of, "Here to play, here to stay."
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