The Blasters appointed the Serbian as their new head coach for the ISL 2021/22 season.

Indian Super League outfit Kerala Blasters have made the first big move of the season by appointing their new head coach. Serbian tactician Ivan Vukomanovic will be leading the team in the upcoming season. After yet another disappointing season, the Yellow Army will hope that Vukomanovic’s arrival will bring them luck and success.

The Serbian had a long playing career in which he represented various club across Europe. Even as a manager, he has had some experience with top European clubs and it will help him in his stint with the Blasters.

Here are some facts about the new Kerala Blasters head coach:

5. Held Unai Emery’s Sevilla to a goalless draw on his managerial debut

Vukomanovic’s first match as a head coach was a Europa League fixture with Standard Liege against Spanish giants Sevilla in the 2014-15 season. His counterpart was Unai Emery, but the Belgians managed to hold Sevilla to a goalless draw, which was definitely a tall task for the Serbian.

Sevilla under Emery were a different beast altogether. They won the the Europa League three times in a row from 2015 to 2017. Therefore, to match him tactically on a given day proves the calibre of Ivan Vukomanovic as a head coach. The Serbian is known for imposing his philosophy, developing young players and playing with a strong tactical acumen. These are traits that Kerala Blasters need in the following season.

4. Coached Belgium internationals like Michy Batshuayi and Laurent Ciman

Vukomanovic was an assistant coach at Standard Liege when he came across talents like Michy Batshuayi and Laurent Ciman. He has trained them to become better players, as they went on to represent Belgium internationally. Batshuayi is a well-known name among football fans, especially due to his time with various clubs including Chelsea, Dortmund, Marseille and so on. He is currently at the Euros with the Red Devils and has a phenomenal international record.

On the other hand, Ciman also has 20 caps for Belgium and was with the Red Devils in their 2016 Euros and 2020 FIFA World Cup squads. Managing these players so early on in his career has been a learning curve for the Serb and it also proves how he places his trust in youth development. The Blasters have a lot of young players and under Vukomanovic’s tutelage, they can reach greater heights.

3. Won the Slovak Cup

In his relatively short managerial career as a head coach, Ivan Vukomanovic has managed only three clubs. Starting from Standard Liege in Belgium, Slovan Bratislava in Slovakia and lastly a short stint with Apollon Limassol in Cyprus. In all these years, he clinched only one silverware and that was the Slovak Cup in 2017 with Slovan Bratislava.

He finished the season with aplomb, as he clinched the Slovak Cup, while guiding the team to a second-place finish in the Fortuna Liga. He may not be the most experienced coach out there. But, he is young, dynamic and these are the traits the Blasters were looking for in their new head coach.

2. Sacked by Standard Liege for being too inexperienced

Ivan Vukomanovic was plying his trade as an assistant coach to Guy Luzon at Standard Liege. But, when the club parting ways with Luzon, Vukomanovic took over as interim manager. After a few impressive performances, Standard Liege appointed him as head coach. The team were getting results under their new manager. But then, shockingly the club decided to sack him in the middle of the season due his lack of experience as head coach.

They appointed a new manager in Jose Riga and offered Vukomanovic the role of being his assistant. The Serbian tactician refused, as he thought that the club were being politically correct and he could not fake it any longer by staying there. It was very bizarre for a club to act the way Standard Liege did with him. He was getting results and the team was in a good position in the Jupiler Pro League.

1. Played in top European Leagues

Ivan Vukomanovic played for many top European sides including FC Koln

Apart from being a talented coach, Vukomanovic had the experience of featuring in multiple European leagues. He was a centre-back who could even play as a defensive midfielder. He started his career at FK Sloboda Uzice and got his big break when he joined FC Bordeaux. Vukomanovic was part of the Bordeaux side which won Ligue 1 in the 1998/99 season. He brushed shoulders with several top players at the French club.

The Serbian also plied his trade at clubs like Red Star Belgrade, FC Koln in Germany, FC Dynamo Moscow in Russia and Royal Antwerp in Belgium. Playing in these top leagues has helped him develop an understanding of different cultures. It also helped him build connections which is required for a head coach. Only when you understand your players, you can solve their issues. So, his experiences as a player will help him in his managerial career.

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