Published: 06:00, 12 August 2021
James Collins is confident Faversham have made up for lost time after a challenging pre-season.
The Lilywhites were hit by Covid, with both Collins and a couple of players going down with the virus.
It led to the cancellation of friendlies while Collins was out of action for three weeks.
He was shocked by what he saw on his return, with Faversham way off the pace.
They’ve gradually caught up and are ready for the opening Isthmian South East game at Phoenix on Saturday.
“I think we’ve made up for lost time now,” said Collins.
“I came back for the Canterbury game, which we won 1-0, but we were awful.
“We were a tiny bit better against Sporting Club Thamesmead but still a lot further behind than I wanted to be.
“We then played Punjab, changed things a little bit, and something just clicked.
“We won that 3-0 and then we looked back to our old selves against Basildon and Margate.
“There’s always areas you can improve but we’re ready to go.
“I just didn’t think we were working hard enough.
“It looked to me like we were going through the motions and dining out on a couple of good games last season.
“We lacked intensity, on and off the ball, it was too laid-back, no one was pushing anyone.
“It was almost like the starting XI from last season thought they were going to play and the ones that weren’t almost accepted that was the case.
“I told the players it wasn’t and everyone raised their game.
“No one’s indispensable, including myself, and it was kind of a little reminder to pull their finger out because they are great lads.”
It’s a big season for Faversham’s star signing, former Gillingham youngster Roman Campbell.
Previously tipped for a first-team future at Priestfield, the striker has been from club to club in non-league.
He’s taken the harder option by joining Faversham and Collins is determined to get the best out of him.
He said: “When we spoke in the summer, I said to him, ‘If you think you’re going to come here and score 25 goals, you’re not.’
“I was honest with him and told him we work hard here and spend a lot of time without the ball.
“He could go to Chatham or Sheppey, who play good football and create lots of chances, and he could score 25 goals and maybe get himself another move.
“Here, he’ll need to enjoy working hard.
“He’ll be the first to admit he was off the pace when he first came in but we had a good chat and I think he will enjoy winning in a different way here and he’ll have the buzz for a bit longer.
“I remember when I was at Chatham, we’d play a team and win 4-0 and it wasn’t enjoyable because you expected to win.
“At Faversham, we have to fight tooth and nail for every point we get.
“I think Roman’s better when he’s angry, he’s better against better players, but he’s got to deliver.
“He’s one who needs to be challenged.
“I don’t want him to come here and play to the level, I want him to show he’s a level above.
“He could pick up a better deal and find it easier somewhere else but he needs to be taken out of his comfort zone and see if that works because what he’s done since leaving Gillingham hasn’t.”