Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanović is unwilling to complete the prospect of replacing John Terry as club captain at the end of the season. With Terry out of contract at the end of the campaign, the 32-year-old is among the contenders for the armband as one of the longest serving players currently at Stamford Bridge.
Since moving to west London in January 2008, Ivanović – who is the Serbia international skipper – has been a mainstay of the Blues defence and has claimed nine major honours in seven full seasons at the club. The ex-Lokomotiv Moscow man was handed a new contract in January to extend his spell into a 10th year.
The upcoming summer is set to represent another period of upheaval for Chelsea, with the club expected to appoint a permanent successor to Jose Mourinho, who was sacked in December, while captain Terry is likely to be offloaded with a new contract yet to be offered to the former England international. Though Ivanović admits he "does not like to think about the future" he concedes the team have lost a deluge of leaders in recent years.
"A good captain needs to be successful and win trophies," Ivanović told The Independent. "Winners are always right. You need to have leadership inside. On the pitch you need to be the person all the other players look at. For example, when we concede a goal, we always look to John and see his reaction. You always expect a positive one. When you are one of the older guys in the team, everyone looks at you.
"In the last couple of years we have lost some leadership, because we had big players who built this team," he added, following the recent exits of Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and Petr Čech. "We were winning and when you are winning, you make new leaders. We have enough resources to make more leaders. But in my opinion we have lost a bit of leadership with the big names in the last couple of years."
Guus Hiddink has reinvigorated Chelsea since replacing Mourinho until the end of the season to put the club in contention for a top six finish. Ivanović says the playing squad was sparked into action by Roman Abramovich's decision to part with the Portuguese boss which has in turn led to the recent run of improved form.
"We had Jose as a shield in front of us, to protect us, to be criticised first," he explained. "Changing the manager woke us all up, and scared us, and now we think we cannot blame someone else, it is only us, and we have to start winning games, which is the aim of the club. The only people who can change the situation are the players. Now we are doing well and we are trying everything to save the season."