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.

Context

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.03 Dec 19 georgiev K

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?

 

 

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