IVANOVIC: GETTING TO GRIPS
Before flying to Thailand, Branislav Ivanovic began his sixth pre-season with Chelsea at Cobham this week, and has been enjoying his time under Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese left the club in September 2007, just four months before Ivanovic arrived from Lokomotiv Moscow. After a slow start, he gradually forced himself into the team and became a regular in the 2009/10 Double-winning season. Ivanovic has now clocked up more than 200 appearances for the club, and is looking forward to adding to them in the season ahead.
Before that happens, there is a tough month of travel and training ahead, but the Serbian reports it has been a positive experience so far, training for three days in England before travelling to Bangkok.
'The journey was alright, everybody rested and made sure we were in a good condition for work when we arrived in Thailand on Friday,' said the 29-year-old. 'For us players, this trip is about hard work because we have to get our base fitness for the rest of the season and give our best in every session to help ourselves.
'The management and coaching has been impressive, and all the work has a high intensity and is very serious, which is what we need for the games. A lot of the work is based on fitness and physicality but it is all specific to football and it is very good.'
Ivanovic has also enjoyed the welcome from Chelsea's Thai support, who greeted the team at both the airport and the hotel upon arrival.
'The fans here are crazy,' he smiled. 'Every year we come here it is nice to see this support. You can see there being more and more fans to welcome you each year, and it is impressive that they give so much and enjoy seeing us and cheering us.'