Be honest, who else nearly had a heart attack when the “news” broke out that Keith Hill was on his merry way to Walsall? Judging by message board comments alone, I’d wager Rochdale Infirmary’s coronary ward was full to overflowing. But it’s all okay now, breathe in, breathe out, Keith is going nowhere – Hillcroft are “100% committed to Rochdale Football Club, the players and the staff” and that Hilly “hasn’t applied for any job whilst [he] has been contracted”. So that’s alright then.
However, the “news” story, first broken by Sky Sports News, did raise some questions about the relationship between the supporters and the management team. With talk of Buckley going, Kennedy off, Alfie away, Dale fans have perhaps overlooked the club’s biggest asset; Keith Hill himself. And suddenly, when the Walsall story still seemed credible, fans were all to ready to believe it at face value, with some going as far as speculation about replacements. Is Keith Hill’s departure really that inevitable? Is it really believable that the very minute a higher club looks at our management, they will leave?
Given Hill’s recent interviews on the official RAFC site, you could almost see it coming. He had been complaining, well not complaining, just airing his views about the fickleness of football in general, and bemoaning Dale’s spending power for weeks now, but it seems the Walsall story was just a case of bad timing. Sky Sports News, usually a fairly reliable source of football info, have clearly put two and two together and got five; by the tone of his interviews, Hilly could be described as “unsettled”, but Dale fans should know him better than that. It’s Hill’s nature to strive for more, perhaps unrealistically so, but his interviews, far from being nudges to the board or disguised messages of “come and get me” are perhaps Keith Hill’s actual thoughts. Now there’s a novelty, a manager saying exactly what he’s thinking. So Hilly’s frustrated with the lack of money… aren’t we all?
In a world where mind games, media manipulation and PR exercises are fed to the masses by the bucketload, maybe, just maybe, we have a manager who says just what he feels. “Sometimes people read into the things that I am saying in the wrong way” said Hill. Maybe it’s time to stop reading into things at all.