NEWLY appointed boss Keith Hill insists Barnsley was ‘always the right football club’ for him – despite initially turning down the chance to move to Oakwell.
The 42-year-old was officially unveiled as the new Reds manager yesterday – after the Times went to press – completing a remarkable u-turn from his position a week ago.
Hill appeared to be the Barnsley board’s first choice for the Oakwell hot seat and an appointment looked close after he was granted permission by Rochdale to hold talks.
He then said he had decided to remain with Rochdale because the job ‘was not right’ for him.
But it appears time to contemplate the move led to his change of heart.
He said: “Barnsley was always the right challenge and the right football club.
“But from my point of view I needed to take time out to assess and evaluate and to make sure everyone was singing from the same hymn sheet.
“I’m really excited about managing Barnsley and really looking forward to the forthcoming season.”
Rochdale assistant boss David Flitcroft looked set to join Hill at Oakwell.
The pair have performed well since taking charge of Rochdale in December 2006, initially on a caretaker basis.
Hill stepped up from his role as director of youth football to replace the sacked former Reds boss Steve Parkin with Dale in deep danger of dropping into the Conference.
He guided them to 13 wins from the remaining 23 games that season, narrowly missing out on the play–offs.
Hill then took Dale to Wembley for the first time in their history but they lost the 2008 League Two play–off final to Stockport.
Another failed play off bid a year later was then bettered the following season when Rochdale secured automatic promotion to League One, ending a record 36–year stint in the bottom tier of the Football League.
And last season Hill and Flitcroft helped Rochdale to equal their highest ever finish as they finished ninth in League One, their best position in 84 years.
Throughout all the recent success, Hill has worked on a limited budget at Spotland, a factor which will have attracted Barnsley.
Previous boss Mark Robins was selected due to his similar performance with Rotherham United.
He resigned last month due to a planned reduction in the budget at Oakwell as the Barnsley board looks to secure the financial future of the club.
As with the move of any manager from one club to another, it is expected speculation will begin to link Rochdale players with moves to Barnsley.
Striker Chris O’Grady and right–back Scott Wiseman have been linked with transfers away from Spotland, particularly to Sheffield Wednesday.
It remains to be seen if Hill’s departure will affect potential transfers from his old club.
n ROTHERHAM United goalkeeper Jamie Annerson has spoke of his delight after signing a new two year deal.
The keeper was one of six out of contract players offered new deals by boss Andy Scott and now looks set to become the number one at the Millers.
The 22-year-old broke into the team towards the end of last season after being the regular understudy to Andy Warrington who has been told he will not be offered a new deal when his contract expires in a year’s time.
Annerson said: “I’m delighted to be extending my stay at the club.
“When I got into the team towards the end of the season I didn’t want it to end so hopefully I can hit the ground running for when we return for a tough pre-season.
“The club have stood by me and offered me a two-year deal which on a personal note is very pleasing.
“Once I had broken into the team I really enjoyed it so I’m hoping to push on and claim the number one spot again next season.”
Scott is reportedly close to making two new signings over the next week once individuals return from their holidays.