Richard Hill, formerly an assistant manager to the likes of John Gregory, Brian Little and Andy Hessenthaler in the Football League, believes that is a realistic objective – despite Eastleigh’s poor start to the season.
Hill took his first training session last night and will oversee his first match as Eastleigh manager against third-placed Maidenhead at the Silverlake Stadium tomorrow, following the sacking of Ian Baird. Languishing in 16th, the Spitfires will be attempting to bounce back from three straight defeats.
Hill is confident that promotion to the Conference – where he managed Stevenage Borough in the late nineties – can be achieved.
“Obviously we’ve got to get promotion, that’s the remit – but that’s my remit,” he said.
“We’ve got some very good players and Ian Baird deserves a lot of credit for putting an excellent squad together.
“As far as I’m concerned, the minimum is the play-offs but I’d also like to produce a team that plays football and people enjoy watching.
“I want a team that passes the ball, and plays with energy and at a tempo – but you have to have players that fit into that style.
“A lot of managers say that then put out a team of 6ft giants that can only run, head it and kick it, but we’ve got some very good players here.
“They’ll be able to adapt and fit into the style of play I would like to play.
“Some weeks we’ll play very well and lose and some weeks we’ll play awful and win.
“I want to entertain the fans but that’s not going to happen straight away.”
Oxford-based Hill’s playing career began at hometown club Leicester City and included 52 goals in just games as an attacking midfielder with Northampton before a serious knee injury, aged 28, robbed him of his peak years.
Since his coaching career began under Jimmy Quinn at Reading, the 48-year-old has gained a wealth of experience under former Wycombe and QPR boss John Gregory, ex-Gillingham player-manager Hessenthaler and Aston Villa legend Brian Little at Tranmere. “Those three have all been a big influence on me,” says Hill. “Although I’ve been their assistant, they’ve let me flourish and put across my own opinion.”
More recently, Hill had a six-month stint as Gregory’s assistant at FC Kairat in Kazakhsta, which ended at Christmas.
His focus now is on beating a Maidenhead side that caned financially-troubled Truro City 8-0 last week.
“You’d rather play a team like that than one that’s hurting and wants to prove a point to the league’s supposedly big spenders,” added Hill.