By Richard Cawley
Paul Barnes says it is business as usual for him as Greenwich Borough manager – despite Perry Skinner stepping down as chairman last week.
The Bostik League South Division side are pushing for promotion but have recently cut back the playing budget with Gary Alexander stepping down as boss in January.
Barnes, 35, moved to Borough from a coaching role at Ashford United to replace the former Millwall striker.
Skinner and his late brother David took control of the club five years ago and moved it back to the borough, with the side winning promotion under Alexander to their current level.
“I was involved in the board meeting on Monday [last week] when I was told what was going to transpire at the club,” said Barnes. “They told me how it was going to work and the reasoning behind it.
“It doesn’t change my budget or the expectations. Perry feels it is a good opportunity for someone else to get involved with the club on the verge of the Bostik Premier, to come on board and take it to the next level.
“I’m left to do what I’m here to do. I’ve been kept in the loop.
“The automatic spots are definitely still there for us.
“The objective set was a play-off place but I always set my sights high, know the squad I was going to inherit and the run of games we had left.
“We’ve had a couple of games recently where we have dropped points but everyone around the top of the table is going to do that. We don’t fear anyone.”
Alexander’s exit also saw the likes of Peter Sweeney, Charlie MacDonald, Tom Beere and Mark Phillips go.
When asked if spending had been cut since he took over, Barnes replied: “That is a fair reflection on things. The way the budget was set previously under the late Dave Skinner, the club probably did overspend.
“We talked about that in the meeting, that it was time we had a little reality check.
“For the club to be sustainable you can’t keep throwing around money. We just had to pull the reins in a little bit and be more realistic.
“The budget was cut down and there is a little pressure to reduce it further, which we’ve been doing and working on.
“We know what we have got to work with and need to manage that accordingly.”
Barnes has previously been part of the coaching set-ups at Welling United and Margate. He also had stints working in the academies of Millwall and Chelsea.
But this season he had planned to take a break and just support his eight-year-old son, who is on Bromley’s books. He is the lead director of coaching at a private school in central London.
But he was asked to go into Ashford in November to work alongside boss Jason Whitmore.
“It was with a view to taking over as manager next year,” said Barnes, who started coaching at the age of 18. “It was to take an overview on the recruitment and do all the coaching. The two roles were to run together.
“It was similar to a lot of clubs. They were overspending down there. They had players who were not worth the money that the club was putting out. I gave them a bit more experience of what they could do there for that money.
“For a club like Greenwich Borough it is about being sustainable and that means showing you can bring through talented local footballers, it is a hotbed for them. So many go on to have good careers at pro clubs.
“So many don’t quite make it. It is such a fine line making it as a pro and coming out of the game completely. They’ve got to show commitment and a real desire, stick with it. They are not going to make great money but someone might take a gamble on them.”
Alexander took Borough to the play-offs last season but they lost their semi-final to Corinthian-Casuals.
“I’d class Gary as a friend and it was a bit of a shock when he went,” said Barnes. “I wasn’t one for throwing my hat in the ring. I didn’t put my CV in.
“But I ended up receiving a phone call asking if I was willing to meet with the club about the manager’s job. It’s something that had always appealed to me.
“When I sat down with them I thought it would be until the end of the season and then we’d re-evaluate. But Perry showed faith in me and was willing to offer me an 18-month agreement.”