"I expected a few questions about Rangers" laughs Tore André Flo in the Aviva Stadium's press room, as you might expect from a man whose last appearance at Lansdowne Road was marked by a fairy consistent deluge of boos for his having the temerity to play for Glasgow's other club.
That game was an international friendly for Norway played in 2003, with Damien Duff scoring the only goal of the game. "The stadium wasn't as nice as it is now", muses Flo. The erstwhile Norwegian striker was in town to promote the International Champions Cup meeting between Arsenal and Chelsea in Dublin on August 1st, with the two sides meeting in a pre-season friendly days before Chelsea face Man City in the Community Shield at Wembley.
Questions on Rangers arise earlier than those about Chelsea, however. What does Flo make of the appointment of Steven Gerrard?
I think it is very exciting and interesting of the club to go for a manager like that. I hope he can turn things around and close the gap. I’m really looking forward to the season for Rangers.
That said, Flo isn't expecting any immediate miracles from the new manager:
He needs to be among the two top teams, at least. They finished third last season but they need to be among the top two teams in Scotland. He will need a little bit of time as the gap is big, but with a bit of time I think he can challenge Celtic.
I think it would be bit harsh to expect him to win the league straight away. To win it would be tough, but I’m sure he will close the gap and try to compete for it at least.
It’s important for Scotland that both teams are doing well. With Steven Gerrard coming in the interest will be great, and I can only see that as a positive for football up there.
The other club with whom Flo is synonymous is of course Chelsea. The club are facing a most uncertain summer - not in terms of the identity of the next manager and some of next season's playing staff, there is nothing new there - but instead about the extent to which Roman Abramovich can continue to bankroll the club. The club have postponed plans to redevelop Stamford Bridge while Abramovich has had the renewal of his visa delayed as he gets caught in the middle of diplomatic tensions between London and Moscow.
Despite all of this uncertainty, along with the fact that Chelsea will be outside of the Champions League next season, Flo only sees the club getting stronger.
No. Not really. I think that Chelsea are still growing and growing, and becoming bigger as a club. I think Chelsea are still in a position to buy the best players and that doesn’t worry me. I don’t know all of the financial situations, but to me they seem to be getting bigger and bigger.
And what of the two players most heavily linked with exits, Eden Hazard and Thibault Courtois? Is he worried about their potential exits?
I would prefer to keep these players, but at Chelsea, players come and go and if they go, some very big players will be coming in. But it’s World Cup for those guys now, and at this moment they won’t be thinking about leaving or about anything other than the World Cup.