On The Ponty End introduces Matt Boothman, former writer for the Rochdale AFC website "There's Always Next Year" ... in this piece he offers a stark warning to supporters of Barnsley FC.

First of all, being asked to assess your ex-manager’s abilities by fans of the club he now manages is akin to being asked to assess your ex-girlfriend by the bloke she ran off with. No matter how fondly she may be remembered, the bitterness of her betrayal obviously affects all attempts at objectivity. We - defined as Hillcroft, gestalt football management entity, and the Rochdale fans whose views I now represent - did not depart on the greatest of terms. To put it simply; they ran off with the bloke with the Audi down the road. Barnsley fans, who will no doubt be impressed by Hillcroft’s successes in the seasons to come, will do well to remember their departure from Rochdale; and wonder whether or not their club can sustain the ambitions of that conjoined manager. But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself.

APRIL 11, 2009 - Football : Manager Josep Guar...Image via Wikipedia
This is NOT Keith Hill
Barnsley’s new manager is no tactical genius, nor is he a fantastic transfer dealer, but more of a European-style head coach with extended powers. His own personal archetype is Pep Guardiola (which Hill has alluded to in recent interviews), which tells us as much about his style as his ambition; Keith Hill is an unashamedly ‘modern’ manager, whose approach to playing the game is noble - he hates long-throw ins, games in the rain, and ‘brutal’ play - which has led Rochdale to claim the Fair Play award two years in a row until his departure. Hillcroft’s real trick is the pursuit of unfashionable players, Perkins and Davies are probably just the first of those kind, and their knack of resurrecting the careers of ‘broken toy’ footballers. The key to this is their ability to spot class rather than form, and their way of creating a family within the training ground. New arrivals are shown compassion and leeway; conversely, bad apples are routed out and dispatched of unceremoniously.

Where Hillcroft sometimes fall down is in their over-zealous reaction to criticism. I don’t know if Barnsley fans are a particularly impatient bunch, but don’t expect boos, or yells from the crowd to be forgotten; Hill will perceive these slights as a sign that his team’s efforts are under appreciated, and even that the supporters need ‘educating’. Hill knows best. He is undoubtedly arrogant, but in a manager, this can be a strength rather than a weakness. But just don’t expect Hill to be your best mate. This paternalism however does reinforce the ‘family’ ethos that Hill espouses. And this lies at the base of his time at Rochdale; success through unity.

Barnsley fans will come to enjoy the season ahead, for I am sure Hill’s appointment will be a triumph. They will appreciate the nimble, quick, style of play, and be impressed by the fitness and willingness to ‘play for the team’ of his squad. But whether this leads eventually to Premier League football - for Hillcroft must think their place rightly lies there - is another matter. Enjoy them while you can, because they may not be there for long.

On The Ponty End thanks Matt for his contribution to the site.

Share To:

Ian Wilkinson

Post A Comment:

2 comments so far,add yours

I think Hillcroft left at the right time instead of mid season, they'll keep Barnsley up especially signing the likes of Scott Wiseman and Matt Done who were both Highly Rated players along side David Perkins at Rochdale. I hope they take you to the Premiership!

Keith Hill and David Flitcroft gave Rochdale the best four years of their lives into Spotland and so will Steve Eyre and Frankie Bunn who have taken over from them at Spotland, I think your first season with Hillcroft in charge you'll finish top ten in the Championship then build on it from there.

Gr8Football said...

They play the game or like a select few have a vision of how the game should be played.
Talking of pushing on for promotion is early days am not sure Barnsley are ready for that a top ten finish would be a great achievement considering past league positions.
The arrival of HillCroft has brought structure to Oakwell something lacking from previous managers, giving the players a true sense to train and play for a position in an all new starting 11.