Season 13 – Pirin (Blogoevgrad) – Bulgarian Western B Group

Much better but not as good as it could have been with a bit more luck. All of these next three seasons had one defining game that meant the end of our season.

This season it was us chasing the leading three of Berlite Orli, the Hyphens and Levski (Sofia). Three games to go, playing Levski away and got crushed 5-0. Never recovered.

Players in: 2 for $25k
Players out: 6 for $7.75m

League Position 4th from 14

P26 W13 D7 L6 +5

Season 14 – Pirin (Blogoevgrad) – Bulgarian Western B Group

Levski (Sofia) again. Chasing quite well, and going OK despite losing two great STs in the transfers last year, when we come up against the away fixture at Levski (Sofia). They ended up losing one game all season, and it didn’t come against us as they crushed us again 2-6. We drew and lost some winnable games and trailed in 8points from 2nd place.

As a continuation of the general improvement around the league our reserves and U-18s seemed to get worse even as the facilities were getting better. I had to bring in more than usual to replace those that left since the youth were not good enough.

Players in: 7 for $67k
Players out: 10 for $2.8m

League Position – 6th from 14

P26 W11 D8 L7 +3

Season 15 – Pirin (Blogoevgrad) – Bulgarian Western B Group

We were top and hadn’t conceded in 5games, then lost a couple of games in a row, struggled to regain our form, but still went into the last games with a decent chance of the top two.

Playing Hebar away we lost 3-4 despite outshooting them 7-3 in on-target shots (yes, a tragic own-goal from about the halfway line by my Ukranian national team DC was the 4th).

We won our last two games but we needed results to go our way on the final day and they didn’t quite … Slavia (Sofia) beat Rilski sportist at home with their only shot on goal, from one of the STs I sold in season 7.

Unbelievable.

 

Players in: 0 for $0
Players out: 13 for $0 (many enquiries but none agreed)

League Position – 3rd from 14

P26 W12 D9 L5 +14  –   2points off 2nd.

Finally with many upgrades the facilities are ‘Top’ and ‘Excellent’ and the reserves are starting to look promising again.

Season 16 – Pirin (Blagoevgrad) – Bulgarian Western B Group

We played OK this season helped by the fact that our speedy youth ST started playing with a bit of confidence. We weren’t going to catch surprise but runaway leaders Minyor (Bobov dol) but we were strong in 2nd.

Then we lost to soon-to-be relegated Botev 21 away and almost-relegated Minyor (Pernik) at home, both without looking like scoring, and the choke was on.

In the end we needed to win at rivals Belasitsa in the last game to take second for the playoff space, which we did 3-0, though a less convincing 3-0 win I’ve yet to see. We really should have lost that game and finished fourth.

Onto the playoff final against Eastern B Group second-placed Cherno more and the game hinged on a red card for them after 52minutes – it looked like speedy youth ST was beyond the last defender when he was fouled and the defender therefore deserved to be sent off, but there was some controversy after the game about it.

The game was still even after that, but tiredness told and when they again gave away a free kick near the penalty area my aging DM dispatched it to put us into the ‘A’ Group.

Although I said to the media that this group of players would keep us up, I’m not so sure … and our season could easily have been derailed if any number of teams had met the Release Clause for my MR, Ukrainian DC or GK.

We didn’t really deserve promotion and the club isn’t really ready yet I don’t think, but let’s hope we don’t embarrass ourselves. After the final our ML left on a free to Levski (Sofia). D’oh! We’ll miss the Hyphens next season as they were relegated.

Players in: 2 for $55
Players out: 8 for $7.75m

League Position – 2nd from 14

P26 W13 D7 L6 +20

My plan is to carry on the way I have been. Buy young talent if I have to, but basically stay with the squad I have where possible. Many have Release Clauses, which seems only fair. But the reserves and U-19 aren’t really the conveyor belt they need to be.

I can definitely see us being relegated (didn’t tell the media that ) but if we do I wonder whether I’ll keep my job. Hmmm. Most of my best reserves contracts expired at the end of the season and when I renewed them my AssMan said he didn’t think it was worthwhile.

Then again, he didn’t believe it was worthwhile renewing the contract of ageing DM, so what does he know?

The board were of course delighted but they said they were surprised (not the only ones!). They expected only safe mid-table and we were predicted 4th.

Both teams relegated from the A Group did horribly, so maybe the B Group have closed the gap a little … again, we’ll see.

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