With passionate fans and a potent squad, Vukomanović set to lead the Blasters' quest for silverware this season

Kerala Blasters have roped in 44-year-old Ivan Vukomanović as their head coach for the upcoming Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season. The Serbian arrives with a lot of hopes riding on him, as the club from south India has failed to qualify for the Hero ISL semi-finals since the 2016 season. He has previously held three managerial positions in Europe, and he’ll be aiming to implement his learnings from his time there to the Blasters’ camp this season. He takes the reins from predecessors Spaniard Kibu Vicuña and Isfaq Ahmed who managed the club in the 2020-21 campaign.

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In his playing days, Vukomanović featured for 12 different teams in 7 different countries in his 17-year-long career that included several renowned European clubs like Girondins de Bordeaux, Red Star Belgrade, FC Köln, Dynamo Moscow and Royal Antwerp. The central defender lifted the famed Ligue 1 title in the 1998-99 season, and was a winner of the First League of Serbia and Montenegro on three separate occasions.

After his retirement at the age of 34, the Serbian ventured into coaching, landing the assistant manager’s job at Belgian side Standard Liège in the 2013-14 season. He was Guy Luzon’s deputy at Standard Liège, until Luzon was dismissed from his role in October 2014. Vukomanović was then promoted to the managerial position and was in-charge for 18 games in the 2014-15 season, before he resigned in February 2015. Chelsea loanee Michy Batshuayi was under his guidance during his time at Standard Liège.

His next assignment was in the Slovak Super Liga, where he was appointed as the manager of Slovan Bratislava. The Serbian led the club to a second place finish in his first season, and helped them clinch the 2017-18 Slovak Cup, that helped them earn a ticket to the Europa League qualifiers. His team came up short in the second round of qualifying, and lost out on a shot at European participation.

After his departure from Slovan Bratislava in October 2017, he had a two year break away from management, and made his return with Cypriot top division side Apollon Limassol as their interim head coach in the 2019-20 season. His role in Cyprus was his most recent one, before he opted to take up the managerial position at Hero ISL club Kerala Blasters, ahead of the 2021-22 season.

He has most commonly employed the 4-2-3-1 formation, a system that has got him a lot of success in his managerial career so far. He has also shown flexibility and also used a 4-4-2 and a 4-3-3 at times. Fundamentally, he sets up his side to be solid in defence and expects his players to stay compact while out of possession and block the opponents’ passing lanes.

When asked about his preferred playing style, he remarked, “Every coach has his own style and the idea of how to play and how to improve certain things but it always depends on the quality you will find in the dressing room, the quality you will find in your players. If you speak about preferred style, I like offensive football. I like many things, to see how they evolve and of course, to score more goals than our opponents.”

Vukomanovic has called for patience from the Blasters fans as he aims to build a team that can entertain as well as win on a regular basis.

“It's our obligation to play with ambition and passion because the fans deserve that. Winning trophies is a process that must be planned. It needs time and patience. Many details are important if you want to complete that puzzle. I will promise hard work and give my best in order to make fans happy and proud of our team,” said the gaffer while discussing his objectives for the season ahead.

The Blasters kick off their campaign on November 19, 2021 with a new and improved squad and a fresh managerial team on the sidelines.

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