Being a top flight football manager can be a tough job. The immense pressures applied on them from the clubs hierarchy to succeed in every game they play in can lead to a pressure cooker type environment. Some managers can handle the stress and have developed coping mechanism to prevent it from becoming a health issue, where as others it has unfortunately led to more grimmer results. Raised stress levels in any job can affect your performance but very few of us are under the public glare and media attention as footballs top coaches.
Without an avenue to deal with this stress and pressure, emotions often then not boil over and can lead to startling events. Take for instance Bulgarian coach Antoni Zdravkov’s situation, who currently looks after Botev Vratsa in the Bulgarian A Professional Football Group. With his team struggling in the league and having not won a match since December 2012, Zdravkov and his team recently played host to a high-flying CSKA Sofia team looking to secure the points needed to challenge leaders Ludogorets for top spot. After watching his team fold the previous week against Lovech, eventually losing the game 5-1 despite taking a fourth minute lead, Zdravkov made two changes to his midfield leaving out Brazilian Vicente and Bulgarian Velev in favour of a more cautious approach. Unfortunately early signs were that he had made a mistake as Sofia took the lead after only five minutes through Brazilian Marcinho. However Botev rallied and equalised in the twelfth minute from the penalty spot through striker Andrey Atanasov. Botev began to dictate the play and push Sofia back, looking more confident as the minutes ticked on. That was until the 19th minute of the game when disaster struck.
After being caught out of position at the back, Botev’s defence scrambled back to stop a Sofia chance only to see defender Nikolay Marinov handball in the area and concede a penalty. To make matters worse, referee Aleksandar Kostadinov (one of the youngest referees in Bulgarian football at only 33 years old) issued Marinov with a straight red card, sending him from the game and into the dressing room. Incensed by the decision, Zdravkov lost his composure running on to the pitch to berate the referee. When he got to him, he took his actions one stage further by grabbing both the yellow and red card from Kostadinov’s hands before ripping them up into tiny pieces. He then stormed off the pitch, before being sent off himself by the referee who eventually reported him for his behaviour. Zdravkov’s anger was mostly caused by what he felt was double standards from the referee after a similar incident had happened only 10 minutes previously (which led to Botev’s penalty), but on that occasion only a yellow card had been shown. Regardless Sofia converted the penalty through Brazilian striker Michel, who ironically was too sent off later in the game for two bookable offences. Despite a spirited comeback, led mostly by anger driven from the sending off of Marinov, Botev lost the game by 4-3 and continued their dismal form for one more week.
Zdravkov’s actions, whilst crazy, are understandable given that Botev now hang dangerously above the relegation zone but with nine games to go, they still have a chance of staying in the league. However Zdravkov is likely to be suspended for some of those matches much to the frustration of the clubs owner, Nikolay Ivanov. Ivanov wants the club to remain in the top division and grow and has talked in the past about his desire to persuade former Botev player and Bulgarian legend Martin Petrov to finish his career back at the club where he started. Petrov, currently with Espanyol and enjoying his life in Spain may be tempted as he reaches the end of his career but Botev would need to be in the top league for that to be an option.
To see the video of Zdravkov losing his cool , click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CzYfsgRrgY