Hill insists he is ‘on top of the world’ despite sniping

Keith Hill
Keith Hill
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BARNSLEY manager Keith Hill believes he remains the ‘best man for the job’ at Oakwell.

Hill has steered his club to the brink of Championship survival with eight games to play.

Despite this success on a limited budget, a section of Barnsley supporters are unhappy as results have dipped alarmingly in the last four months.

Ahead of tomorrow’s home game with Peterborough, the Tykes are 11 points clear of the relegation zone – but have suffered 14 defeats in the last 19 games.

It is understood Hill still has the full support of club owner Patrick Cryne and the former Rochdale manager is in no rush to leave.

He strengthened his squad yesterday with the loan signing of Huddersfield Town winger Kallum Higginbotham but has been dealt a series of blows over the season with Ricardo Vaz Te sold to West Ham United, Danny Drinkwater moving to Leicester City, and captain Jacob Butterfield ruled out by a knee injury.

Reflecting yesterday, Hill said: “At this moment in time, the results are not good enough so my position at the football club will probably be questionable. But I am the best man for the job.

“I have a very good relationship with the owner and the directors and we are on the same page. As long as we remain on the same page there will be no problems.”

Hill, 42, joined the Tykes on a rolling one-year deal last summer after impressing in his first managerial role at Rochdale.

At the start of December, his team was pushing for the play-off zone but a five-goal home defeat by Ipswich Town signalled the start of a decline.

“I have not really experienced this sequence of results as a manager before – over five-and-a-half years,” he stressed. “It’s a results-driven business and my management portfolio is made up of results. Nothing else.

“Everyone is concerned but you have to remain positive and optimistic. You can self-analyse and ask yourself too many questions at times. But I never got into a situation where I thought it was comfortable.

“I understood the situation when I took on the job, I understood the history of the club, and (what has happened in) the last five years once it has retained Championship status.

“I understand the differences between the West Hams and the Barnsleys and all I ask is that we remain competitive. If we remain competitive, with a collective effort, we will be fine.”

The Tykes re-entered the loan market earlier this week when signing Tottenham goalkeeper David Button as cover for Luke Steele, who will be sidelined for the next three weeks with a groin injury. Hill was also close to signing Blackpool midfielder Chris Basham but the deal collapsed.

Higginbotham, 22, joins on loan until the end of the season with a recall clause in the deal after 28 days. He worked previously under Hill at Rochdale and joined Town from Falkirk two months ago.

Whatever hurdles are put in Hill’s way, meanwhile, are unlikely to knock his self-confidence.

“I am feeling brilliant, absolutely superb,” smiled the Barnsley manager. “I get up every day and I am alive. I go and see my young boy Sidney. Life couldn’t be better. Don’t be concerned about me. I don’t need any sympathy or concerns. I am on top of the world.

“Basically, you just have to go out and do the job whether as manager or player.

“You have to trust your instincts, the instincts that made you fall in love with the game as a player.

“I don’t want the players to feel under any pressure. It’s a game we all love and the players should not stop loving that game – but unfortunately it happens and it becomes business.

“Sometimes you do forget that it’s an enjoyable game but I am more than at ease with what I am trying to achieve. The amount of work you are doing when you are losing goes un-noticed. It definitely makes you stronger but self-doubts? None whatsoever.”

The Tykes, a point behind tomorrow’s opponents Peterborough, suffered the agony of last-minute defeat against Crystal Palace in midweek.

“The performance, if not the result, was more than acceptable when you consider the data,” he said.

“The stats were more than compatible with winning football matches.

“It was a bitter pill to swallow but I can see a lot of positives out of that performance.

“I hope the players play with a bravery at home and express themselves in the way they did at Palace. We created good opportunities and there was almost an apologetic response to them winning.

“It’s about what we do now in front of our home supporters and accepting the pressures and demands of the situation.

“But talk is cheap,” he stressed. “It’s what you do that matters.”