Paul Johnson is starting to get his feet under the table at Farnham Town.
Life has been a whirlwind since he took over as manager from Sean Birchnall, having to rebuild his squad after a lot of players left.
He was delighted to see his troops grind out a 4-1 win against Croydon Athletic at the Memorial Ground on Saturday – especially after fighting back from a goal down.
And young striker Connor Young, a product of the under-23 development side, underlined his growing potential with a hat-trick.
But one aspect of life in the Combined Counties that Johnson has not been so impressed with is the quality of football in the Premier South Division.
“It’s not that good compared to the step above,” he admitted. “I thought it would be a little bit faster – there’s a massive gulf there, as well as in terms of the quality of football.
“We look at other teams we are playing and talk about which of their players we would like to have here, and there’s maybe only one or two players. We have watched games too and nothing frightens us at this level. There’s supposedly quite a bit of money in this league and it’s quite heart-breaking to see what some people are spending it on.
“I’ve not seen all the teams yet, of course, so it’s hard to tell if they are all the same, but Jersey Bulls have been stuck in this league for a couple of seasons, and I saw Badshot Lea in pre-season when I was at Bedfont, and we won that 6-0 or 7-0.
“I know some of the players at Raynes Park Vale who are good Step 4 players – I tried to get a couple of them when I was at Bedfont – and on paper they should be running away with it.
“There seem to be five or six okay teams and then others behind them.”
Johnson was delighted to pick up three points last weekend. “It was a bit of a battle and it was good to be able to grind out a win – I’ve not seen that side of the team before, and it as a good way to win,” he said.
“We went a goal down when our keeper James Ferguson came out for a long ball and misjudged the bounce and left their striker with a tap-in.
“Their centre half then made a mistake to put us back in it, with Connor taking advantage of his poor back pass, and he scored his second quickly after.
“Connor is only 19 and he has really stepped up and done well – he has worked hard and is now getting his rewards.
“We said when we came in that we would give everyone a chance and there are three or four youngsters who look good enough to really make their mark.
“Someone was telling me afterwards that’s the first time we have won this season after going behind, and that’s a real positive.
“We do tell the players that when things go against them they can either let it happen or try to make a difference, and don’t point fingers at other people.
“We are trying to build a side here – and we’re used to that. At Bedfont we never had the best money to go out and get the best players so we always had to build teams to stay in the league and mould them to get them to play the way we wanted them too – and that’s what we are doing here.
“One difference was we had a 3G pitch at Bedfont, which we liked. Some of the pitches we have seen this season have been very interesting...”