Keith Hill may regret his rash decision to rejoin Rochdale

Michael Holden
keith hill 300x225 Keith Hill may regret his rash decision to rejoin Rochdale

Keith Hill

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.

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  • John

    I think the reporter should have read what Hill said in the MEN before writing a typically “doom and gloom” piece regarding Rochdale, which does his reputation no favours. Hill has spoken only of the positives (personally speaking) from his time at Barnsley and will use them to good effect at Spotland.

  • Team Tarn

    Slightest of alterations? You have clearly seen little football at Oakwell under either Hill or Flitcroft.

  • martinde

    On the other hand, if Flitcroft does get Barnsley out of danger it might seems that Hill had failed there and make it more difficult to get a job at a higher level than Rochdale. Also, he’s now in the shop window again, on a six-month contract that offers the chance to get Rochdale into the play-offs, after which he might get the sort of offer he’d want. And don’t forget the jobless managers – Steve Cotterill, Simon Grayson for example – who have more on their cv’s than Keith Hill.

  • Guy Courtney

    Can’t believe this is a serious viewpoint. Hill failed at Barnsley after succeeding at Rochdale. Who in their right mind would choose unemployment over the chance to return to where he forged his reputation.

  • Tom Brodrick

    What a bizarre article. Who are you to either a) know what Keith Hill is thinking or b) give a manager such sternly-worded career advice? You make so many assumptions based on nothing.

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