Partizan Belgrade have named the club's former coach Vladimir
Vermezovic as successor to Avram Grant who will step down at the
end of the season despite winning the league title.
Vermezovic, a former Partizan defender who steered the club
to the 2005 national title as coach, will take over next week
after the champions play relegated Metalac Gornji Milanovac in
Sunday's season finale.
"Our intention was to keep Grant for at least two years
because he is an outstanding coach but he decided to part
company with us for personal reasons," Partizan president Dragan
Djuric told reporters on Friday.
"His presence and coaching skills helped us improve our game
and, now that Vermezovic has returned home for a second spell in
charge, we hope to reach even greater heights next season."
Grant, who guided Chelsea to the 2008 Champions League final
where they lost to Manchester United on penalties, was never
fully accepted by Partizan supporters although the club won a
record fifth successive league title and their 24th overall
under the Israeli.
He took over in January from fans' favourite Aleksandar
Stanojevic, when Partizan were 10 points clear of Red Star, and
quickly came under fire after a pair of draws let their city
rivals back into the title race.
Disgruntled supporters pelted Grant with lighters after his
first home game in charge, a 0-0 draw with Sloboda Sevojno, and
their relationship went from bad to worse after three successive
derby defeats by Red Star, two of them in the cup semi-finals.
The 1-0 league defeat at home to Red Star spoiled Partizan's
party after they had already clinched the title with three games
to spare, and Grant was jeered as he left the pitch.
Vermezovic, who coached Slovak club Spartak Trnava and South
African side Kaiser Chiefs after his first stint with Partizan,
faces a tough challenge to qualify for next season's Champions
League group stage.
Partizan also named former coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic, who won
six league titles and three domestic cups with the club, as the
director of operations.
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