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Branislav Ivanovic

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An actual legend of the club. He played a key role in many of Chelsea's successes and he can be very proud of himself. Went from a complete nobody when he first arrived to one of the first names on th

Says it all. Get out of my club you absolute helmet. He's been useless defensively for a while now but his goals/assist tally saved him last season. I actually laughed when this happened, totally ut

i cant say it better...

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Seen he was leaving Zenit, not sure Everton the best move for him but he could be a good addition for his experience and influence on some of their younger players. 

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Chelsea legend Branislav Ivanovic fires warning to doubters after signing for West Brom


Branislav Ivanovic has completed a move to West Brom and the Chelsea legend insists he still has plenty of ambition and intends to be a Premier League hit again at 36-years-old. The defender has returned to the Premier League after three-and-a-half years at Zenit St Petersburg, having spent nine thoroughly successful years at Chelsea. He won three Premier League titles, the Champions League, Europa League, three FA Cups and one League Cup during his time at Stamford Bridge, racking up 377 appearances for the club. With 105 caps for Serbia to his name, Ivanovic is as experienced as they come, but also past his best, with his 37th birthday coming around in February.

However, he is raring to get going after signing a one-year contract at West Brom and is not at the Hawthorns to wind down his career. ‘The Premier League is the best league in the world,’ he told West Brom’s official website. ‘I need to challenge myself and I am ready for the challenge. I am really happy to be back playing in the Premier League. ‘I hope I am going to be successful here. I have a lot of ambition and I want to prove a lot of things. I will give everything for the team.’



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Chelsea’s ‘monster’ back to fix Albion’s defence after spell in Russia 



He ended his decorated Chelsea career with three Premier League titles, three FA Cup winner’s medals, a Champions League trophy and a Europa League triumph.

But West Bromwich Albion’s new signing Branislav Ivanovic endured a frustrating start to life in the Premier League.

For eight months following his January 2008 transfer from Lokomotiv Moscow to Chelsea for £9.7 million, the Serbian did not feature under Avram Grant. Ivanovic even considered leaving Stamford Bridge. But friendships with the club’s Russian winger Yuri Zhirkov and Ukrainian superstar Andriy Shevchenko helped maintain his sanity and convinced him to stay.

That decision proved well-judged as Ivanovic went on to enjoy incredible success at Chelsea, but he admits his future was in the balance during those difficult first few months.

“I have no ill feelings towards Avram but at that moment I was really angry,” he said in a 2009 interview. “I understand him now because I couldn’t change a lot of things at that moment.

“When I arrived, it was difficult for a lot of reasons. I had come from the Russian League when there was a break between seasons. I was not ready to play. I needed time to be able to get used to the training, the play and everything about the club. After that, I picked up an injury and when I returned it was near the end of the season and every game for Chelsea at that stage was important.

“The squad was very strong and they were trying to get to the Champions League final. They were also involved in a very tough title race with Manchester United. However, it was the most difficult time in my career.

“I don’t think you can find a player in the world who is happy when they’re not playing. You think you deserve to play but a manager’s job is to find the players he wants to play.

“Of course, I was very angry.”


It was during his long wait for game time that Ivanovic first encountered the current Chelsea manager, who went on to be a team-mate and fellow dressing-room general in a golden era for the club. Despite struggling to make his mark on the first team at Stamford Bridge, Ivanovic made a big impression on Frank Lampard.

“My memories start with him coming from Lokomotiv Moscow and I remember him trying to get fit,” Lampard told Chelsea TV.

“When he came to Chelsea, I think I was recovering from an injury myself and we were training together. It was a cold day and Chris Jones, who is part of my coaching staff now, was crossing in balls and we were running in and heading them.

“Anyway, this monster was running in and heading them like we saw him head (later on, when in the team). He could leap and jump and was strong. There was a determination that ran through him at that point. You could see he was going to be something a bit special and a bit different here.

“I was fortunate to play with him in all those successful years because you could rely on him… you could rely on him at centre-back, at right-back.

“You could rely on him for a headed goal, rely on him for the Napoli goal (an extra-time winner in the Champions League last 16 en route to winning the 2012 final), rely on him to dig in and fight, to support the team and his team-mates. So I have huge memories of him and I’m really pleased that he’s got his opportunity at West Brom to go back and play one more time in the Premier League.”

Ivanovic was close to leaving for Fiorentina in January 2009, but Chelsea pulled the plug on the deal at the 11th hour. Three months later, in what was his major breakthrough game, he scored two headers in a Champions League quarter-final first leg at Liverpool to help secure a 3-1 victory.

Still, that “monster” Lampard recalls on the training pitch had a reputation for shyness off it and, after scoring those two goals at Anfield, he walked through the mixed zone, ignoring assembled journalists and had to be persuaded to get back off the team coach just to speak to Chelsea TV.

Chelsea staff remember a quiet figure who spent most of his time with Zhirkov, usually playing pool. But as Ivanovic settled in at the club, he became an increasingly influential figure on and off the field. He took Nemanja Matic, a fellow Serbian, under his wing and became like a big brother to him, especially in the midfielder’s first spell at Chelsea from 2009 to 2011. Like Ivanovic, Matic found first-team chances hard to come by at that time and found an understanding ear in his compatriot.

Ivanovic was said to have developed a cheeky, dry sense of humour and was often the butt of jokes from team-mates about trying to crack his permanently serious expression. He became part of a core leadership group at the club that also included Lampard, John Terry and Didier Drogba.

There were flashes of temper, like in January 2014 after he scored a winning goal at Manchester City. When Matic was named man of the match instead of him, aggravating an underlying belief that his game did not always get the credit it deserved, Ivanovic refused to conduct any post-match media duties when asked by the club. He was reputedly annoyed that Terry and Lampard had been asked to appear on TV instead and a stubborn streak for which he became well-known was displayed.

He is perhaps best remembered at Chelsea for an interview he did agree to when, after Chelsea clinched a place in the 2012 Champions League final, Sky Sports reporter Geoff Shreeves broke the news to Ivanovic that a booking in the semi-final second leg meant he would miss the biggest game in the club’s history.

Ivanovic did make an appearance at the final win over Bayern Munich when he appeared, like Terry, in full kit, as per UEFA rules, to join in the celebrations. While Terry was mocked for his attire, Ivanovic’s went under the radar, so much so that his appearance on top of a crossbar at the Allianz Arena is rarely discussed.


Behind the scenes, Ivanovic became a player of influence, so much so that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich would speak to him in the dressing room after games in Russian. After an FA Cup quarter-final loss at Everton in March 2016, just days after being beaten by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, Ivanovic was spotted in animated conversation with then-technical director Michael Emenalo. Observers believe this was an example of a senior dressing-room figure conveying the feelings of players to the powers that be.

Ivanovic enjoyed playing under Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti in particular, was frustrated when Andre Villas-Boas preferred Jose Bosingwa at right-back, and was eventually eased out by Antonio Conte.

His final Chelsea appearance was low-key as he scored in a 4-0 FA Cup win over neighbours Brentford, refusing interviews after the game as he took his exit from Stamford Bridge badly. But he left the club having made 377 appearances, scoring 34 goals.

Ivanovic’s success at Chelsea came as no surprise to those who knew him.

“I knew he had the potential to play for one of the biggest clubs in Europe,” Slavoljub Muslin, his former coach with Lokomotiv Moscow and the Serbia national team, tells The Athletic.

“He can play at right-back or central defender, which is really important for a coach. He was very fast and a very good crosser but defensively he was very good.”

Ivanovic grew up in a sporting family in Sremska Mitrovica, a small city in Serbia’s Srem region. His father played professional football for Srem and his mother was a successful handball player. Ivanovic’s childhood included a difficult time as the former Yugoslavia broke up and Serbia found itself under sporting and economic sanctions.

He began his career at Srem, following in his dad’s footsteps, moved quickly to OFK Belgrade and, by the age of 22, was heading for a first spell in Russia.

“He was a young player but he wanted to learn, to progress and to work,” recalls Muslin. “He stayed like that because he could not have had the career he had without that. He is a very good professional and that is the most important thing for a player.

“Every day, he came to training to learn and progress and it was very important for him at the beginning of his career.”

After two years and one Russian Cup triumph with Lokomotiv Moscow came the move to London, and nine years with Chelsea.

When his time at Stamford Bridge was up, Russia came calling again.

In three seasons at Zenit St Petersburg, Ivanovic won the league twice and another Russian Cup.

“Whenever we have a player of the quality of Branislav Ivanovic then everyone goes mad in Russia and says, ‘Wow, we have a world-class player’,” says Alexy Yaroshevsky, who provides English-language commentary on the Russian Premier League.

“When he joined, the fanfare was maybe not as vocal as Dejan Lovren, who replaced him eventually (in a move from Liverpool this summer). When Lovren signed, people went crazy, whereas it maybe wasn’t as big when Ivanovic signed, but people who worked in football in Russia were ecstatic. After joining, he was soon named Zenit’s captain.

“Zenit is a team with huge ambitions because they are sponsored by one of the wealthiest natural resources companies in the world, so becoming an immediate starter is quite an achievement. The gap between Zenit and the rest is huge but Ivanovic started almost every game.

“And since he’s gone, you can see there is a decline in how they operated defensively because a lot revolved around Ivanovic. He was universally loved and admired by Zenit fans, by the pundits, and he was one of the most welcoming, heart-warming guys you could speak to in a mixed zone.

“We have a problem in Russia that many players skip past journalists after a game and leave without a comment, especially if they lost, but Ivanovic was one of the few who always stopped for a conversation with journalists.

“He’s a model professional who speaks three or four languages, is very fluent in Russian and in English and everyone was very sad to see him go.”

In Serbia, the end of Ivanovic’s international career is a source of mystery.

Shortly before the 2018 World Cup, the nation’s most capped international, known as “Bane” (a common Serbian nickname), was stripped of the captaincy of the national team. Since that tournament in Russia, he has not played for Serbia but has neither formally announced his retirement nor spoken about the circumstances of his apparent departure.

Yet in his homeland, the widely-reported story behind the captaincy change makes for bizarre reading.

Two Serbian journalists have independently told The Athletic that in a pre-World Cup training camp, Serbian FA president Slaviaa Kokeza turned up unannounced in full kit and insisted on participating in a practice game.

Ivanovic is thought to have voiced his disapproval to coach Mladen Krstajic, and soon after the armband was given to Aleksandar Kolarov, Ivanovic’s friend and the former Manchester City full-back.

“When they came back, he practically said goodbye to the national team without officially saying it,” says Nemanja Stanojcic of the Serbian website 24sedam.rs. “But when it comes to football and the things he gave to the national team, he is definitely one of the all-time greats.

“There was some talk that he might come to Red Star (Belgrade) this summer and Serbian fans were quite excited about that.”

Ivanovic is not, though, a megastar in a nation where basketball and handball rule the sporting scene.

Overseas football, where he has spent most of his career, is often the preserve of wealthier families who can afford subscription television.

“Ivanovic is not a star here as he might be if he’d played in Serbia and in our league,” says Nikola Jankovic, a freelance journalist based in Belgrade. “But the fans are with him from the time he lost the captaincy and he has real respect.”

Now, an unexpected summer transfer has brought Ivanovic back to the Premier League with West Brom at the age of 36.

Slaven Bilic spoke to friends in Russia to get first-hand testimony of Ivanovic’s fitness and form for Zenit. He is expected to slot in at centre-back with Semi Ajayi, the strong, powerful, quick but raw defender, his most likely partner if Bilic reverts to the four-man defence he used in the Championship last season.

Bilic is convinced that Ivanovic will have a positive impact in the dressing room at The Hawthorns.

“He is one of those players that likes to share his opinion of situations that happen in training. On and off the pitch, he’s very vocal. He’s been there, he’s a leader, he’s got quality — that is all part of the package and the reason we have him at the club.”

Time will tell whether Ivanovic can make an impact in the Premier League in the twilight of his career. But in Serbia and Russia, there is optimism about his fitness and how he will influence Bilic’s young players.

“Zenit have young defenders coming up who are getting more and more chances in the first team,” says Yaroshevsky.

“And Vyacheslav Karavayev, who is a right-back, which is the position Ivanovic used to occupy, learned a lot — basically everything he does now — from Ivanovic. I’ve heard that from a lot of people inside the club.

“If we compare the Russian league to the Premier League, it’s a different planet. The Russian league is not as physical or as high-paced.

“There are four or five huge games for every top club each season and Zenit are no exception. They play against Spartak, CSKA, Lokomotiv and the likes, but many other games, against the minnows, the competition level is not as fierce as it is in England. So for Ivanovic, with his experience and physicality, they could be a walk in the park, unfortunately for the Russian league.

“But in the big games, he still showed an amazing level of physicality and pace and contribution to both attacking and defending, so I haven’t seen a single glimpse of him becoming less physically effective than he was at Chelsea.”

Muslin adds: “Later in his career, he was still a great professional and he was my captain for the national team. He was a leader in the national team so I knew he could do that. For the young players he had a very good reputation with the career he had with Chelsea, and his experience was very important for the national team.

“He is a quiet guy but he was a leader on the field, with his example of how he fights on the field. And he was also a leader in the dressing room.

“He was open to everybody. If anyone had a problem, he was open for the players; if he had a problem outside of the field, he came to speak to me and he wanted to help everybody. He tried to understand everybody in the team and I used to ask him what he felt about the team and he’s a very good person.

“This is another challenge for him but I think it will be a good move for West Bromwich Albion. He is a good professional, so I hope he can play another one or two years at a high level.”

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  • 4 weeks later...
4 minutes ago, NikkiCFC said:

WBA conceded 13 goals in first 4 games, now just one with Bane in two. He improved them massively. Thiago Silva effect.

TBF, West Brom's last 2 fixtures were much easier compared to their first 4 - Burnley and Brighton vs Leicester, Everton, Chelsea and Southampton.

Burnley and Brighton are hardly sides that score many goals.

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