Grigor Pasha writes: The arrival of the winter break found Neftochimic in third place, in one of the play-off places in the Bulgarian second tier. I hadn’t expected to achieve such a lofty position.
The question then was what to do about squad development.
In most clubs that question would concern whether to strengthen and, if so, how far.
But, as I explained in a previous post, the options for strengthening here are limited: though there’s a second window, there isn’t a second registration period.
This meant, in effect, I could bring in only players who didn’t need to be registered — youngsters or players arriving on a free transfer.
The real question became not whether or how to strengthen but rather what to do about transfer interest for my current players and about contract renewals.
I decided to exit two players on loan: Petkov (a striker) and Dimov, about whom I’ve written before.
It may seem odd to thin the squad whilst competing in a promotion race but in truth I didn’t see their exits a a loss. Both struck me as rather unprofessional. Apparently playing well and training poorly are acceptable, whilst being criticised for either of those things is unacceptable. Oh, and moaning a lot, about whatever, is fine too.
Think we’re better off without those kinds of players.
A tale of two Georgievs
The exit that did weaken the squad was the transfer of Mihail Georgiev.
I didn’t want to lose Mihail. A combination of touch, agility, technique and composure made him look very at home on the ball. Of all the players he was the one I most enjoyed watching.
But I’d offered him a new contract and he’d wanted more than I wanted to pay; Khabarovsk were prepared to pay what would for us be a record fee; and the player would command wages approximately ten times greater than here: so it was difficult to resist.
The decision was made easier by the fact that I’d identified his successor: Kiril Georgiev was out of contract.
Kiril lacks the finesse of his namesake, but has qualities of his own that I like.
Especially the determination, the bravery, and the natural fitness.
And I found he’d accept a low salary.
The board’s verdict
The reward I received for what I considered to be a nifty piece of business was criticism for the board. Apparently they were ‘concerned about the financials’.
I know, I know: record transfer fee received, wage bull reduced — whatever was I thinking of?