Season 17 – Pirin (Blogoevgrad) – Bulgarian A Group
What an odd season. We continued our improvement in most areas, the exception being at ST. That cost us. Big time.
We failed to score in 18 of our 30 games, at one stage putting together an impressive 11 game (10 league, 1 cup) run of bagels in the ‘F’ column.
We kept playing well, creating good chances but failed to cause coincidence of biscuit and basket. Of course, the fact that our Finishing = 18 STs couldn’t score didn’t mean that the opponents’ Finishing = 14 ST missed similar chances did it? Oh no.
We were confirmed relegated with one game to go after a 0-1 loss at home to bottom club Shumen 2001 (shots were 13-8 in our favor, corners 10-0, possession 59/41, of course) but I wasn’t fired … in fact the board gave me a vote of confidence but advised that they expected to see significant improvement soon.
Players in: 3 for $130k
Players out: 10 for $500k
League Position – 5th from 16
P30 W5 D10 L15 -17 – scored only 18goals all season.
Since it’s the 20th season I’ll run a previous club/player review:
YF Juventus (Switzerland) – came back up the year after relegation with me, have been in the Challenge League ever since (mid-lower every year)
Dolne Vestenice (Solvakia) – have been in and out of the league after relegation with me. Did get to the First League for one year, promptly relegated again.
Bdin (Bulgaria) – odd appearances in the B Group since relegation
Bulgaria – Costly AMC now a full international (playing for Feyenoord), another ex-player won the Golden Boot at the European Championships.
Bulgaria U21s – 3 regulars (+ 2 ex-players)
Bulgaria U19s – 3 regulars
Other internationals: Moldova. I think there are more but not seeing them at the moment.
So down we go. I’ll update this post if I get to start the next season at Pirin. There’s a board takeover ongoing also – that probably doesn’t bode well … no, indeed not. Sacked.
After the firing from Pirin I took a little stock of what went right and what went wrong. Obviously, the issue in the end was that we failed to score enough, and I kept expecting things to turn around.
The other thing I think I need to tweak is to have a better idea of ‘succession’ – promote where there’s an obvious successor for a position, buy where there isn’t.
I’d still like to keep the basic tenets and being profitable on a season is important but clearly not to the point where we get relegated.
So I knew it was going to be another long road to the point I was at in Pirin, but some jobs opened up after the end of the season and I applied for two in Slovakia – Stropkov and Humenne. I was offered both, but I accepted Stropkov because their field is called ‘Tesla’. No engineer could turn that down.
Season 21 – Stropkov – Slovak Second Division
Clearly however that was Stropkov’s only attraction – in the East of Slovakia, plenty of money ($2m transfer fund!) but no facilities to speak of. No players are engineers in their spare time since none were remotely interested in coming here, even on loan.
Again could not sign a GK coach all season (0 applicants). No-one from Pirin wanted to join me here.
There’s a first half of the season before the winter break then the league splits into a Relegation Group and a Promotion Group. We were predicted 12th of 12.
First part went OK, with typical bad luck leading us to a poor record of P22 W4 D1 L17 for 12/12 and of course into the relegation group.
Over the break I splashed what cash I could on ‘seasoned veterans’ to lead us out of the 2 relegation places. Since points carried over there were only a few teams I though we could overtake.
Humenne and Lucenec were 6points ahead, with Dunajska Straka a further 2 away. These were all possible.
The way the fixtures worked out we played Humenne and Lucenec at home in the first half of the second season, but lost both games without scoring. We were confirmed relegated by the ninth game, and I allowed them to feel the pressure removed.
The team responded with some more solid performances, making sure that Humenne were relegated with us. A small crumb of comfort.
P14 W1 D4 L9
An example of a typical pre-relegation-confirmation game was away at Duslo Sala. I’ll give you the stats:
Shots: DS 8/3 Stropkov 11/7
Possession: DS 45% Stropkov 55%
Corners: DS 1 Stropkov 4
Goals: DS 3 Stropkov 1
More than anything else it’s clear that my tactic (which is just a standard tactic modified per tenets) needs able STs. We didn’t have them and couldn’t get them.
Players in: A couple of loans for the first part, then 4 for $81k in the window.
Players out: 3 for $0
League Position – 12th from 12
P36 W5 D5 L26 -43 12/12
By the way, Pirin failed to bounce straight back from the B Group in Bulgaria – they drew too many games. Shame for the players and supporters.
I didn’t have to wait too long for a job vacancy to open up … because of the timing of being fired and the leagues I’m running though I’d have to be prepared to wait a long time for either an Icelandic or a Finnish job …
So it’s not too surprising that I carried on retracing my steps (Switzerland -> Slovakia -> Bulgaria / Bulgaria -> Slovakia -> Switzerland).