The end of an Era, the end of Ivanism. One of the most beloved and popular head coaches in the history of Kerala Blasters FC in the Indian Super League (ISL), Ivan Vukomanovic, recently mutually agreed to part ways with Kerala Blasters FC. 

Vukomanovic has been undoubtedly one of the most celebrated head coaches in the ISL, owning to his down-to-earth and in-the-vein engagement with the highly popular fan base of the Kochi outfit coupled with the complete turnaround in fortunes he oversaw at the franchise since his arrival in 2021. Lifting the team from being a team struggling to make an impact to a regular top hitter, punching well above its weight, managing to reach the final in his debut stint, and finishing every season in the playoffs.

The Serbian will also be most remembered for the warmth and affection he shared with the Blasters fans. He was the most revered personality among the supporters, well above the star cast players he managed during his run. 

Let's take a detailed look at the most standout events among many, during his cherished years at the helm of Kerala Blasters FC. 

Vukomanovic gets going at Kerala Blasters FC 

On June 17th, 2021, Kerala Blasters FC announced the appointment of Vukomanovic as the new head coach for the ISL 2021-22 season. However, his first match as the manager of Kerala Blasters FC ended in a 4-2 defeat against ATK Mohun Bagan on November 19. The Blasters then earned the first point of the Serbian's stint with a draw against NorthEast United FC in their second game of the season.

Vukomanovic's first win ends long drought for the Blasters 

On December 5, 2021, Vukomanović's Blasters secured their first league win by defeating Odisha FC with a score of 2-1, thus helping Kerala Blasters FC to achieve their first ISL victory in 11 long and gruelling months. Second-half strikes from Alvaro Vazquez and Prasanth Mohan secured the points for the Blasters.

Over the league stage hurdle after a long wait

The win against Odisha FC triggered an eight-match unbeaten run for the Blasters that saw them reach the top of the table for the first time in eight years. This happened after their victorious match (1-0) against Hyderabad FC on January 9, 2022. The Blasters' run ended against Bengaluru FC but they picked up key wins against Chennaiyin FC and Mumbai City FC to qualify for the semi-finals for the first time since 2016.

The Blasters go all the way... almost!

In his debut year, the Blasters qualified for the ISL final. They secured their place in the final after beating League Shield winners Jamshedpur FC 2-1 on aggregate. However, they lost to Hyderabad in the final in heartbreaking fashion having led till the 87th minute. A late equaliser from Hyderabad FC saw the match go to extra-time and eventually to penalties where the Blasters fell short, missing out on the ISL Cup by a whisker.

Vukomanovic though won the trust of the Blasters fans as he became the first Kerala Blasters FC coach to help the team go on a 10-match unbeaten run. Additionally, the Blasters set new records for the highest number of goals scored, the highest number of points obtained, the highest number of wins, and the joint lowest number of losses in a single ISL season. They also achieved a positive goal difference for the first time in the team's history, all in his first year.

Vukomanovic stays 

On April 4, 2022, the club announced the extension of Vukomanovic's contract for three more years until 2025. It was the first time since its inception in 2014 that the team had renewed the contract of a head coach.

The Blasters make Vukomanovic's first home game sweet

ISL 2022-23 started with a bang as the Blasters won their first home game against East Bengal FC with a score of 3-1 on October 7, 2022. This match was particularly special as it was the first game played in front of a packed stadium after the COVID-19 regulations eased up. The return of the regular home-away format was celebrated with much fanfare among the fans. The fans got a first-hand taste of Vukomanovic's football and it was the beginning of a very special bond.

The Serb rewrites the record books at Kerala Blasters FC

On November 13, 2022, the Blasters defeated FC Goa with a score of 3-1, breaking the Gaurs' unbeaten streak of six years against the Blasters. This victory also marked the 14th win of Vukomanovic as the manager of the Blasters, surpassing David James' record for the most number of wins by a manager in the team's history.

On November 19, 2022, the Blasters managed to win five consecutive matches for the first time in their history, but their winning streak was broken when they drew against Chennaiyin on December 19, 2022.

On February 3, 2023, Vukomanovic broke another record by serving as the manager of the Blasters for the most number of games. He managed his 42nd game, surpassing David James' record.

On February 16, 2023, the Blasters secured their spot in the playoffs of the 2022-23 season, becoming the first squad in the team's history to qualify for back-to-back playoffs. Vukomanovic was weaving his magic.

Heartache in Bengaluru 

On March 3, 2023, a highly controversial match between Kerala Blasters FC and Bengaluru FC took place in the Knockout fixture of the ISL. Unfortunately for the Blasters, they lost 1-0, ending their hopes for silverware in the 2022-23 season. 

Ashan's returns to the dugout

Vukomanovic returned to lead Blasters from the dugout, as their head coach in the 2023–24 ISL season, after serving a ten-match ban, missing a couple of their initial fixtures at the beginning of the season. His comeback was marked by a home game against Odisha FC on October 27, where a fully packed stadium welcomed him back with love and support. Fans displayed their affection through a magnificent tifo, making his much-awaited return even more special. The Blasters came from behind to win 2-1 thanks to a late Adrian Luna goal.

Ending the Kolkata curse and beating the big boys

On December 24, 2023, Kerala Blasters FC played a highly anticipated reverse fixture against Mumbai City FC at home and won 2-0. They followed this up with a 1-0 away victory against Mohun Bagan SG on December 27. These victories made Vukomanovic the first manager in Kerala Blasters FC's history to defeat all possible opponents in the ISL. It also marked a third successive clean sheet victory for his side, a first in the team's history. WIth a win over East Bengal FC earlier in the season, the Blasters won both the fixtures in Kolkata for the first time, improving on their woeful record in the city of joy

Kerala Blasters FC reached the playoffs for the third time in a row

Kerala Blasters FC has once again proven their prowess on the field under Vukomanovic by reaching the playoffs for the third time in a row.

Vukomanovic's dreams end in a narrow extra-time loss

On April 19, 2024, Kerala Blasters FC's dreams of winning the ISL Cup for the first time were shattered in a narrow extra-time loss to Odisha FC in the Knockout round. It was also the last match for their head coach, Ivan Vukomanovic, who had led the team to victory against the same team for his first win in the ISL.