‘WHY I RESPECT RODGERS,’ ZENIT RIVAL

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BRANISLAV IVANOVIC insists there will be no old pals’ act at Parkhead on Thursday when he hopes to line up against Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic.
The Serb hopes to be in the Zenit St Petersburg defence when they take on the Hoops in the first leg of an intriguing Europa League encounter.
Ivanovic, who is recovering from an eye injury, won nine major honours during his stay at Chelsea – and Rodgers was his first boss at Stamford Bridge when he arrived from Lokomotiv Moscow a decade ago.
The man-mountain defender recalled: “I actually made my debut for Chelsea with Brendan as my coach.“He was reserve team manager at the time and he picked me for my first game at the club.

“I was really impressed with him straight away. When I first
 encountered Brendan, he was something new for me.

“He was completely different to what I’d seen before in football.

“Brendan was so precise with
 everything. He went through every movement you made and was very focused on every single situation during a game.

“Even then, I was so impressed with his work. After he left Stamford Bridge, he’s gone on to build a big career for 
himself and be at some really great clubs like Liverpool and Celtic.

“He’s a very good manager and so passionate about the game. He takes care of everything for the players, he understands football.

“And he can build teams because he always gives young players a chance. That’s why I respect him.

“So, I know all about Brendan as a coach. I know some of Celtic’s
players having crossed paths with them before.

“And I know the passion they play with, especially at home.

“For Zenit, this will be a big 
challenge. The Celtic game will give us a real indication of where we are in Europe at the moment.”

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