Chelsea vice-captain Branislav Ivanovic explained what went wrong in the beginning of this season, when the Blues had the worst start in the last 40 years and went one point from relegation zone, a situation that culminated with the sacking of manager José Mourinho.
The Serbian defender reveals that was not Mourinho‘s fault and that if Abramovich could, he would have fired all the squad for under performing on the pitch but, at the end, as it often happens in football it was the coach to pay for everyone:
“We didn’t know what was going on,” the current Chelsea’s captain on the pitch said.
“We finished brilliantly last season.We won the trophy. We knew how difficult it was.
“Jose told us the hardest season in football is the year after you win. We were ready for that, but we didn’t start well.
“We lost control of our game and minds. Those three or four months was one of the most disappointing moments in my career.“
“We could not deal with the pressure of what being champions of England means. Your opponents have big motivation.
“When we didn’t win for six or seven games, people realised we were not as strong as last season. They weren’t scared.
“I took criticism from the public, but I was more critical of myself. All players are most critical of themselves.
“I tried to find the reason why I was not performing as I was last season. We gave everything last season.
“We didn’t realise how dangerous it was to be champions. We fell down quickly. We didn’t know what was going on around us.
“I had an injury and was not 100 per cent clear in my head what I was doing, what I had to do.
“Jose didn’t change. He didn’t change his preparation for games. He didn’t change the way he treated us. He was the same.
“Football is about players. The managers are not on the pitch. It is 11 vs 11. You have to be better than your opponent.
“We were more responsible than the manager. Of course it is difficult to change 25 players halfway through the season.
“If Abramovich could have, he would have changed all of us as. It’s difficult to say it was only one guy’s responsibility.
“Guus [Hiddink] deserves a lot of credit. He is doing an amazing job. But it was all about the players. Changing manager woke us up.
“When we had Jose, we had a shield in front of us. We had someone to protect us, to be criticised first. Now it’s only us.
“We cannot blame someone else. We have no-one around us, and we have to start winning games, which is the aim of the club.
“Chelsea did not deserve to be in the situation they were in. We are trying to do everything we can to save the season.
Asked if he would like Chelsea captaincy he replied:
“Difficult question. We have a captain. I don’t like to think about the future.
“I try to do my best and be ready if it happens. I would hope not to change what I am now. If not, I’m happy like this.
“You need to be the person all the others look to. When we concede a goal, we always look to John and see his reaction.
“A good captain must be successful. Win the trophies. Off the pitch, you need to be professional, set a good example.
“We have lost some leadership. We had big players who built this team. In my opinion we have lost a bit of leadership.“