Branislav Ivanovic has hailed the appointment of Guus Hiddink as new Chelsea manager as the Dutch boss was the one who gave him his first "proper chance" to get established at Stamford Bridge during his first tenure at the club. The Serbian international defender, nevertheless, insisted that the players – and not Jose Mourinho – are to blame for the current situation of the club and also the ones that should step up now to turn around the campaign.

Chelsea announced the arrival of Hiddink before the Premier League win over Sunderland on Saturday (December 19) after the club decided to part ways with Mourinho following a poor start to the season which left the club just one point off the relegation zone after nine defeats in 16 games. The highly experienced Hiddink managed to put the things right after taking over from Felipe Scolari in 2009, leading the Blues to the FA Cup, reaching the Champions League semi-final and finishing the season in third place.

Ivanovic, who became a first-team regular under his guidance, believes the boss's experience can help the Blues turn around the situation but warned that the challenge now is different to the one he had in his first spell at the club.

"I worked with him here before, he was the one who gave me a proper chance in this club. I know how good his work was the first time he was here and I am grateful to him for that moment, but it was a long time ago," Ivanovic said to the club website.

"Now is a new challenge, a completely different situation. I know he's one of the most experienced managers in the world, he has worked and been successful in a lot of countries. I think his first aim is to stabilise us, to give everything to the team so we can play like we did against Sunderland. We have to get back into the habit of winning as quickly as possible."

The 31-year-old right-back says that ultimately the players are the ones who have to step up, as they are responsible for the situation of the club, 15<sup>th in the Premier League table, 20 points behind leaders Leicester City and 11 away from the Champions League qualification places.

"All of us has a responsibility for what has happened and all of us are responsible for where we are in this moment," he said. "The manager is not on the pitch, it is the players, so we lose the games and the thing we can change in the future is ourselves. We have to be honest with each other and honest with ourselves, then win a couple of games in a row and stick with that for a long time to get back to winning regularly, because it is important for the club."