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With Goran Stevanović dismissed after FK Partizan were knocked out in the Serbian Cup semi-finals by FK Vojvodina, the Belgrade club looked to another old boy to steady the ship.
Aleksandar Stanojević scored once in 116 games as a defensive midfielder for Partizan prior to spells abroad with Club Atlético de Madrid and RCD Mallorca. Returning home to play for FK Obilić and OFK Beograd, he served his coaching apprenticeship as boss of second division FK Srem, assisted national-team coach Miroslav Djukić and enjoyed success with Serbia's Under-19s.
However, when his old club came calling, he had no hesitation in accepting, telling UEFA.com: "I am very sorry to have to leave a very talented U19 selection and a nice job as U21 assistant coach, but I had no doubts. Partizan are my club, my life, my dream and my priority. The Football Association of Serbia understood that and I have to thank Partizan for giving me a chance to develop."
His career as Partizan coach began with a 2-1 home win against FK Rad on Sunday. "It was a great way to get started," he said. "
Three points, some good things, less weaknesses, support from the stands; that is really all you can ask for in your first 90 minutes."
More will be expected in the weeks to come. Their cup exit means Partizan can no longer defend their double, but overhauling FK Crvena Zvezda's two-point lead at the summit remains the target. "We can do it," insisted the coach, who has six matches to do so. "It would be a brilliant achievement in my first weeks in charge, but nobody expects a miracle. We just have to play well, be organised, keep developing, and trophies will come."
Much has been made of the fact that, at 36, Stanojević is Partizan's youngest coach to date, but the man himself refutes any suggestion that he lacks experience. "I have been coaching for the last eight years and have worked with some good, seasoned coaches," he said. "I have been learning from them and now I want to show people what I think modern football should be like."
Stanojević wants to see a "fast, attacking" Partizan, demanding that "every player always keeps his duties in mind and gives 100% for the team". If that happens, there could be a title in it. "Crvena Zvezda come to our place on 8 May. If we win we could be a step from glory.
I know we have to take it a step at a time, but I don't want to blow a chance to achieve something really big."
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