Keith Hill may regret his rash decision to rejoin Rochdale
Rochdale fans are joyous at the return of Keith Hill – and understandably so, considering all he achieved in his previous stint with the club – but it’s hard to escape the feeling that Hill himself has made a rash decision in going back to his former haunt and it’s one he may live to regret.
Things might have gone pear-shaped at Barnsley this season but Hill came away from that job with his reputation intact when the Yorkshire club sacked him three weeks ago. It would be wrong to consider him a manager of Championship pedigree on the back of successive relegation battles, but Hill didn’t disgrace himself by any means and few observers would disagree that his current stock rests somewhere in the upper echelons of League One.
Like his Oakwell predecessor Mark Robins, who suffered a similar fate on the back of similar results, Hill should have been looking to take time out and pitch himself back in somewhere between where he started and where he just came from. He knows what it takes to be successful in League One and, with the benefit of time to reflect, he will understand the mistakes he made in the Championship.
So the next step, surely, has to be a third-tier club looking for fresh impetus, a club with genuine Championship aspirations, and one that can at least match Barnsley for resources should that dream ever come to fruition. In the summer, you might just find one or two of those positions become available. Next season, another four or five.
All of which serves only to reinforce the belief that Hill has been hasty. Three weeks is no time to stop and reflect on a failed mission, no time to take stock of experience and target areas that require personal development. By going back to his roots so soon in his career, it seems as though Hill is selling his soul to the merry-go-round. To many, it’s an admission of lost ambition.
Of course, it’s easy for outsiders to be critical of a man’s decision when he’s unemployed. Some people just aren’t cut-out to sit around and twiddle their thumbs, and most managers have a responsibility to their families to make ends meet. Nonetheless, it would have done Hill no harm to exercise a little bit of patience to see what became available to him. The Rochdale job was always going to be his whenever he wanted it.
Indeed, John Coleman barely had chance to empty his desk before Hill was back in the Spotland hotseat, which only fuels the suspicion that Hill has come away from his Barnsley disappointment somewhat embittered by the industry in general. The sight of his former assistant David Flitcroft now taking plaudits for the slightest of alterations at Oakwell will have done nothing to appease any sense of injustice.
So what do Rochdale get? They get a man probably concealing his grief over a significant career setback. They get a man who, for the time being at least, must operate without his trusted sidekick and sounding board – and who can say whether that special bond with ‘Flicker’ will ever be the same again? They get a man who currently underestimates his own standing within the game, which translates as a man with questionable motivation and ambition. And they get a man who’s on a hiding to nothing in terms of matching what he achieved in the past.
When you view it in those terms, one might argue this appointment is a recipe for disaster.Tagged in: football, keith hill, Rochdale
Recent Posts on Football
- The Football Lawyer: Uefa has made moves to stamp out racism, but only time will tell if they grow more forceful
- The Wasteland: Cruzeiro's Brazilian title triumph turns Rio and São Paulo into footballing tiddlers
- From the Centipede to the Rat Hunter – How Brazil’s longest suffering club escaped from the wilderness
- Fifa threatens Brazil with World Cup expulsion (almost...)
- The Football Lawyer: Qatar 2022 compensation claims and the problem with quotas
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter