KEITH Hill says his achievements at Rochdale might never be bettered, but the Barnsley boss won’t be taking anything for granted when he returns to his former club for the first time in over 14 months today.
Hill has not been back to Spotland since being appointed Reds manager in June last year.
And he has stressed he won’t let “emotion” get in the way of business as Barnsley look to start the season with a bang in the Capital One Cup.
“I think a lot of people at Rochdale have realised, as a result of what happened at the club last season, what we [me and assistant David Flitcroft] actually did and how difficult it actually was,” Hill told The Star.
“At one point there was a suggestion it was quite easy what myself, Flicker [Flitcroft], the coaching team and the players did.
“But I think Gary Jones, who played there, said when he left that the fortunes drastically changed as soon we’d left the football club.”
The Reds were dumped out of the Carling Cup at the first hurdle last season by Morecambe (having lost to Rochdale the season before) and Hill doesn’t want a repeat performance, especially because he knows the possible financial rewards of a cup run for the club.
“A cup run can set you up for the start of the season or it can put you under pressure and, potentially, can aid you financially,” added Hill. “We want to be going into the Middlesbrough game next week full of confidence and not asking too many questions.
Trialists Ibrahima Sonko and Scott Hogan cannot play against Rochdale, but Hill hinted that permanent deals could be agreed before the club’s first league game at home to Boro next Saturday.
“We’ve extended Sonko’s trial with us and we’ll see where we get with that,” said Hill. “He’s going to keep working on his fitness. We’re both comfortable and compatible with the decision made, so let’s see what happens.
“We also want to continue having a look at Scott. He’s got ability and he’s got to make an impact.
“For someone whose been playing five leagues below The Championship, he’s done well.”
Meanwhile, Hill believes Mido’s hamstring injury - which will put him out for three months - might help the Egyptian striker catch-up on his fitness.
“I’m not too worried,” said Hill. “It could be a blessing in disguise. It could be a fortunate occurrence with respect to him maybe working on his conditioning, which he can do without the use of his hamstring. He could be one we could use later in the season.”