Grigor Pasha writes:
In the least few matches of my first season (2019-20) in charge at Chernomorets Balchik, we had finished well — three wins and a draw. That probably helped us get off to a good start in the second.
So too did the fact that three loanees stayed on for a second season (2020-21). In particular I was pleased to have the services again of the boys Chernev and Rabotov: they’ve been very consistent at the back and have developed a great understanding.
We came out of the traps better than I had dared to hope. 16 from 6, with a very settled team. You could see there was a real rhythm to our play.
We used what I call my Berwick formation.
In the autumn we spluttered a little, so we switched with some success to what I call my Stoke formation.
We were never far from the top.
Regular readers will know that I’m a fan of the winter break.
My approach is to play three friendly cups: the Black Sea Shield, the Black Sea Cup, and the Black Sea Trophy. We play opposition from a variety of levels, though no minnows.
I reverted to the the Berwick formation and we really found our stride. When the season resumed, we banged in the goals and played with wonderful confidence and verve. I didn’t really have to do very much: I could just sit back and enjoy.
But as the spring progressed, we started to splutter gain. We drew games we should have won and got knocked off top spot.
I reverted to the Stoke formation. It took a couple of matches to find a rhythm but then we put together a sequence of strong performances.
Very businesslike; nothing showy — but we went 9 matches unbeaten at the end of the season. This despite the fact that I’d allowed 5 of the boys to go off to the U20 World Cup.
We were a team without stars. That was our strength. We relied on consistent breadth and depth of talent, supplemented by a good team spirit — the outcome, in part, of plenty of team bonding, community outreach, and teamwork sessions.
Somehow, whenever we need a little impetus, someone would step up to the plate. It was as if they had arranged to take it in turns.
There are, however, two starlets who promise to bring sparkle.
Plamen Mitkov was in our 2020 youth intake. In the 2020-21 season he scored 12 for us.
And Svetoslav Aleksandrov arrived in the 2021 intake.
I reckon they could make a great pairing up front, with one left-footed and the other right-.
Unfortunately, I suspect promotion has arrived too soon for them, so we may never know how well they might have done together.
I find myself in something of a quandary.
Half of me feels that I should stay here at Balchik. For one thing, I’ve earned the opportunity to manage at a higher level. And I like living here: the sea air, the hilly scenery, the outdoor bars and restaurants.
But the other half of me feels that I’ve done my bit. Maybe the unavoidable task of reconstructing the squad would be best done by someone new.
And maybe the second tier is my level? After all, it’s well above the level I played at, as a dour (in other words, talentless) anchor man playing in the Varna region.
But then again, I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to put together a top class backroom staff. I reckon much of the value I have added at Balchik is down to the way I’ve recruited and deployed staff.
Take, for example, my assistant manager, ‘Tactics’ Kikov. he’s nowhere near as rounded as I’d like. But I appreciate his perfectionism. I can, I confess, be a little “That’ll do” in my approach at times. Having a perfectionist as a deputy helps to keep me up to the mark: every time I think of winging something, I think of how that would make young Tactics wince.
I’ve just asked the board if we can send him on a coaching course over the summer. Naturally, they told me we couldn’t afford it. This despite the fact they’ve just added about three quarters of a million euros to the wage budget.