Grigor Pasha writes: I’ve written before about the advantages of a winter break. Here in Romania it’s long enough to introduce a new tactic. During the break we (that is, Farul Constanta) host three cup competitions, so that we can not only train a new tactic but also test it in match situations.

I didn’t want to stick with the 4-1-3-2 tactic we’d been using, despite its short term success.

I decided on radical change.

I went for a flat 4-4-2.

05 Apr 20 4-4-2 wingers flat

I wanted to build this tactic around pacey wingers. This necessitated rapid action in the transfer market as we didn’t possess any such players.

Fortunately, we came up trumps. On the right we brought in the boy Longher and on the left Joca.

05 Apr 20 Longher

05 Apr 20 Joca

The transformation proved an instant success. Between the end of the winter break and the end of the season our record was as follows: P 18 / W 11 / D 5 / L 2. (Needless to say, the two losses were both against very lowly teams: my exasperation over the complacency that set in has, I’m sure, taken years off my life expectancy.)

The use of wingers willing to run with the ball at pace brought an exhilarating quality to our play. This isn’t something that can often be said of my teams, which tend to be at best workmanlike and pragmatic — and not infrequently dour.

The boy Longher was a revelation. Whenever he gets the ball, his inclination is to run at the defender. And the combination of speed, agility, and control makes him very good at beating his man. He won the Young Player of the Year award for Liga 2.

As well as finding his play exciting I also, in truth, found it frustrating.  His end product was not as good as his running. Time and time again he’d get behind the defence only to play a poor cross or pass or shoot straight at the goalie.

To be fair, it wasn’t entirely his fault. It was also that the forwards couldn’t always keep up with him.

But we were winning, so I decided to sit back end enjoy — and only worry about what to do once the season had finished.

As spring, which can be beautiful here, wound on, I introduced a modification to the formation. Despite the best efforts of the staff, our centre backs persisted in kicking away too much possession by hoofing it. To solve this problem I dropped one of the forwards back to attacking midfield and asked the team to play a somewhat shorter passing style.

05 Apr 20 4-4-1-1 wingers

The modification succeeded.

A bonus was that it enabled me to bring the boy Nita into the team, playing between midfield and attack. He arrived during the spring, in the youth intake, and I followed my policy of ‘if-they’re-good-enough-or-more-precisely-nearly-good-enough-they’re old enough’.

05 Apr 20 Nita

I like this lad a lot. He was undaunted by first team football and slotted right in. I really hope we can keep him.

Thanks to the efforts of Longher, Nita, and the rest of the boys, we finished in our highest ever position (5th) and I now have the luxury of a new two-year contract.

I plan to enjoy the early summer. Marya, my half-sister, is coming up from Burgas to stay for the week. Time for relaxation in outdoor cafes, bars, and restaurants (which we do quite well on the Black Sea coast), looking out to sea and planning our tactical evolution.

At the same time, I intend to investigate the craft beer scene which, as in Bulgaria, is developing promisingly.

Life is good just now.

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