Graham Potter is beginning to see the fruits of his labour in his bid to establish Brighton in the Premier League.
The Seagulls, in their fourth season back in the top flight, showed few signs of progress until January, winning only two of their first 18 league matches.
But they will bid to make it seven unbeaten in Monday’s home game against derby rivals Crystal Palace and Potter used a gardening analogy to explain their turnaround.
“My dad was a keen gardener and had his allotment,” Potter said. “He would always start off doing a lot of digging, a lot of heavy work, with not too much to show for it and a lot of back ache.
“Eventually, after a long period of time, he would start to see things coming through and he would have some vegetables. But it takes time. It’s like anything in life.
“We’ve had to try to change the playing style a little bit, we’ve introduced some younger players from the academy, taken some players that are adapting to life in the Premier League.
“To still get results in the Premier League is a huge challenge.”
Defeat at Manchester City in mid-January left Brighton one place and two points above the relegation zone, but they have since won at Leeds and beaten Tottenham and Liverpool, at Anfield.
“Thankfully we’ve managed it quite well, but we have to keep going,” Potter said. “The group is in a good place at the moment.
“We’ve taken some steps because of that struggle, that process you go through. We’ve managed to stay strong, to keep belief, to keep working.”
Brighton finished 15th and 17th in their first two seasons back in the top flight under previous boss Chris Hughton.
Hughton was sacked soon after the club had narrowly avoided relegation in 2019 and replaced by Potter, who led them to another 15th-placed finish at the end of his first season.
“The exciting thing is there is a lot more to come,” Potter added. “They are just green shoots at the moment.
“We’ve got a nice mix of players who are at the start of their careers who are really exciting that we need to help. At the moment, it’s just potential but there are exciting things there.
“We’ve also got some really good players that are in good moments in their careers that have good experience, like Lewis Dunk and Pascal Gross.
“But we know results can quickly turn as well so you have to keep focused, keep humble, focus on the next game and fight for the points against Crystal Palace.”