Mariya writes: I always spend some time with my half-brother, Grigor, in the inter-season. I can’t see how football management is a taxing job, but somehow during the season he’s always pre-occupied.
This summer, Grigor doesn’t have much down-time. By the time the play-offs had finished, the window for the next season (his fourth i/c of Farul Constanta) was already open.
So I’ve come up the coast from Burgas for just a few days.
Ever since he took at the job at Constanta, Grigor has of course been a man about town. We’d be sitting in a bar or a restaurant and I’d notice someone gesturing towards us: ‘See, that’s the manager of Farul over there!’
But now he’s won promotion, more people come up to us in the street, asking for a selfie with the great man.
‘Looking forward to watching the team in Liga 1,’ they say; or ‘Who are you bringing in for next season, Grigor?’
Over a glass of dry Fetească Neagră — Romania produces more good wine than us Bulgarian credit — I observed old Grigor closely.
‘I’ve been watching you,’ I said. ‘You look proud. But not relaxed. What’s the matter?’
‘Oh, well, it’s just that this promotion thing: I think maybe it’s a double-edged sword.’
‘How come?’ I asked.
‘Well, I mean it’s great to go up. Sure I’m proud. Big thing for the club. But all these people banging on about ‘Liga 1’ and ‘next season’…’
He shook his head.
‘I’m not sure it’s for me. I mean, Liga 2 was above the level I played it. But the football was recognisable. You know, all about endeavour. Get the boys fit, get them organised, and get them running around a bit — a bit more than the opposition.
‘But I feel that in Liga 1, all kinds of other things will creep in. Publicity, money, even skill.’
He looked fearful when he said that word.
‘But,’ he continued, ‘I know what you’re thinking. You’re going to tell me it’s all down to that syndrome — remind me, what’s it called?’
‘Impostor syndrome, I said. ‘And, no, I wasn’t going to say that. Impostor syndrome is when you’re qualified for a task, but think you aren’t. But Grigor, when it comes to Liga 1, it’s true: you aren’t qualified. You’d be an real, syndrome-less, impostor.’
He winced. ‘Grigor,’ I went on, ‘Let’s face it, you wouldn’t know a trequar… a trequar… — oh, remind me, what’s that word, how’s it spelt?’
‘Yes, well, there we are. That’s rather my point.’
‘But if I resign, what would I do? I’m in the my early sixties. Too early to retire, but too old to learn new tricks.
‘I could get a job at another club, but…’
He didn’t finish the sentence. ‘It might be inland’ is what I think he might have said.
He never had lived or worked away from the sea. Born on a ferry; grew up in Varna; played football in and around Varna; worked as a seaman in the merchant navy; worked as a ‘security consultant’ around the Black Sea (‘There’s a file on me in Odessa,’ he always says). And now manager at Farul Constanta.
‘Maybe you could start an allotment,’ I suggested.
It didn’t go down well.
‘Could you see Jose Mourinho starting an allotment?’ he asked.
‘Grigor, you’re not Jose Mourinho, are you? Just think, you could grow your potatoes in a 4-4-2 formation. Or develop overlapping broccoli.’