After armed riot squads, Milijas can take derby heat
Sunday 19 December 2010
When Wolverhampton Wanderers eventually face West Bromwich there will be no paramilitaries doing choreographed moves in the stands or armed riot squads to police them. The players' cars should be safe from their own fans. In fact, his experience of the Belgrade derby convinces Nenad Milijas he can stay cool amid the heat of the first Black Country spat between the two sides in the top flight for 26 years. He might have to wait a few weeks to find out, however, after today's match was postponed.
Milijas, a £2.6m capture by Wolves from Red Star 18 months ago, is aware of the antipathy between Albion and Wolves. But he explains that it took 5,000 police to ensure the last meeting with Partizan passed off peacefully – soon after the Serbian national team's followers had forced the abandonment of a Euro 2012 qualifier in Italy – whereas opposing factions at The Hawthorns are more likely to trade insults than missiles. "The pressure to perform in the Belgrade derby is massive," says Milijas, 27, although satisfying the fervour of the fans is not the only factor.
"They are the games people from other countries watch you in if you want to play somewhere else. I can't say that football in Serbia is great but players go [abroad] because they have a few good games in the derby."
Nemanja Vidic, at Manchester United, and Nikola Zigic, with Birmingham City, also proved themselves at Red Star. Milijas, who grew up devoted to the club, had a positive record against Partizan. "I won four times and lost twice, and I also scored three times, so I don't have a problem with pressure. The Belgrade game wasn't about the city but the whole country. The clubs play each other at many sports and the rivalry's there whether it's basketball or volleyball, but the football can draw a 70,000 crowd.
"The atmosphere is incredible. Our hotel was at the stadium, 100 yards from where Partizan play. The night before a derby and throughout the next day you can hear the fans – and see the flares and fireworks. It's crazy. If you lose, the supporters aren't happy. Sometimes they damage your cars, which happened when I was there."
Wolves are 19th in the table, seven points behind Albion, but Milijas says they are a better side than the one that survived last season. He has enjoyed being told in the street: "It's West Brom, you've got to win this," and realises the exchanges on the pitch will be fierce. "When it starts you forget about the fans and play your game. It's important to settle down, have a few good passes and forget all the talk that's gone before.
"Usually there's only a few chances, and you need to take one and keep a clean sheet. To do that you must have passion but also a cool head. In a derby a clever team wins, not the one who wants it more, because they both want it equally."
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance
Latest in Sport
Anderlecht vs Arsenal match report: Kieran Gibbs and Lukas Podolski pounce as Arsenal leave it late
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Daley Blind admits United must 'play our best game' to get a result at Old Trafford
Liverpool vs Real Madrid player ratings: Was Cristiano Ronaldo the star man? And how did Mario Balotelli fare?
Liverpool vs Real Madrid match report: Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema run Reds ragged at Anfield
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was shirt swapping the real reason?
- 1 As an ex prostitute, I urge all the political parties to commit to the Sex Buyer Law
- 2 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 3 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Couple die within 28 hours of each other after being married for 73 years
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'