Grigor Pasha writes: There’s some excellent guidance available on squad assessment, from sources such as FM-Life.

Though, as I explained in my post on initial squad assessment, in my own practice at Neftochimic I have departed from such advice, especially in the sequencing of actions. My initial assessment of the squad was deliberately cursory.

The second step

Having made decisions over staffing, I’ve now returned to the business of squad assessment. The second step revolves around one thing: requirements regarding match squads.

According to the summary I’ve been given, there must be at least two players who are U21s and, between the ages of 15-21, have been trained in Bulgaria for at least three years.

At first glance that didn’t sound too demanding. But then I started to think about it and realised it constitutes quite a challenge.

The pertinent points are as follows:

  1. I have it on good authority that the summary of requirements is poorly written. The de jure text says there needs to be at least two such players in the starting eleven — but de facto there needs to be two such players on the pitch at any given time. So if I’ve got two in the starting line-up and take one off, I’ll need to bring on another.
  2. We’ve got only four players who fulfil the requirement.
  3. One of them is very weak. There’s a club seeking his services on loan. I’m minded to go along with that, though that will leave us with only 3 plays in this category.
  4. Given that players get injured, lose form, etc., neither 3 nor 4 players in anywhere near the number necessary to ensure that we can always get two out on the pitch. I reckon that half a dozen such players is the minimum we’ll need to feel confident that we can meet the league’s requirement.


The main challenge I now face, therefore, runs as follows:

  1. As explained above, I need to bring in a number of players — and to do so rapidly. Our first league match is only a month or so away, on 20 July.
  2. We have no spare budget.
  3. So we’ll need to offload players.
  4. But we can’t, at least to begin with, do that via mutual terminations, because we have no cash to pay the fees.
  5. So we’ll need to either:
    1. sell some players, though probably only those on contracts that started in previous seasons will be willing to go — and there aren’t many of them;
    2. get some out on loan.

The more I think about it, the more daunting this challenge seems. If I fail at this hurdle, my managerial career could in effect be over almost before it started.

Some assistance

Fortunately, old Avdzhiev (the Chairman) has agreed to help me get some players out the door. I’m grateful because I’ve been out of football for decades and so I’m sure, at the moment, his network is stronger than mine.

Image credit: photograph by by Bravehardt, generously made available under a CC BY-NC 2.0 licence.

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