Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic has blamed blames himself, Nigeria’s John Obi and other members of the Blues’ playing staff for the dismissal of former boss Jose Mourinho.
With John Terry set to seek his fortune in Asia this summer, Ivanovic will become, with all due respect to Jon Obi Mikel, who does pre-date him, the senior player and professional at the club. Ivanovic has a natural authority and sense of responsibility that makes him the likely replacement for Terry as captain, in what will be his 10th season at the club.
The Serbian blamed his team-mates for the sacking of ‘the Perfect One’ by revealing to Jack Pitt-Brooke they could not handle the pressure of defending their league title. Ivanovic has lived through a lot here, including the collapse of the second Mourinho era, for which he is strikingly apologetic.
“He is the Special One, he is the Perfect One. Completely different from anyone else, from anything else. Sometimes I had a feeling, in the first two years, that he sees football ahead [into the future], he sees three games ahead. He made some decisions when everyone would just turn and look and say, ‘Wow, is this real? Nobody could see that.’”
“Jose told us the hardest season in football is the year after you win because everyone else has extra motivation. We lost control of our game, of our minds. We didn’t know what was going wrong around us. He did not change anything. He was the same. I think, player by player, we could not deal with the pressure of what being champions of England means.
“Football is all about players. The managers are not on the pitch. It is 11 against 11, simple as that. The players are more responsible for that situation than the manager. It is difficult in football to change halfway through the season 25 players. But I think at this club, if Roman Abramovich could have, he would have changed all of us as well. It is difficult to say it is only one guy’s responsibility.”
“We had Jose as a shield in front of us, to protect us, to be criticized first. Changing the manager woke us all up, and scared us, and now we think we cannot blame someone else, it is only us, and we have to start winning games, which is the aim of the club. The only people who can change the situation are the players. Now we are doing well and we are trying everything to save the season.” Ivanovic is quoted as saying on the Independent.
Chelsea are moving in the right direction again, and may well continue to do so with Ivanovic as captain next season.