Since Keith Hill took charge at Bolton, we’ve seen an ever-progressing change in fortunes for the Trotters.
After going without a win since March, Hill’s Bolton side finally notched their first three-point haul of the season against Bristol Rovers last week and were quickly on the lookout for a second win on the bounce.
Sadly, the adverse weather leading up to Saturday’s game against Lincoln City meant that the match was postponed.
However, the Bolton boss took the news as a blessing in disguise as it meant his players could rest up in preparation for Tuesday’s EFL Trophy fixture against Manchester City’s Under 21s team, who currently lead Wanderers’ group in the competition.
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Speaking with the club’s website ahead of the Manchester City match, Keith Hill was quick to praise the “marvellous” operation at Pep Guardiola’s team and said that he has “a lot of respect for their identity” and how the mentality of the club is passed from the first team all the way down to their various youth teams, similar in style to Pep’s former stomping ground, Barcelona.
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It’s clearly something that Hill has a lot of admiration for as he continued by saying “what I’m trying to do is create our own environment and I want it to be evident in our playing style, we have to try and better at controlling games and opponents in and out of possession.”
It’s certainly a big claim from Hill in that he wants to create an identity for Bolton Wanderers that mirrors, or takes inspiration from, the likes of Pep Guardiola and the youth system of Manchester City.
But given Keith Hill’s longevity in his managerial roles – he was at Rochdale for 11 years over two spells, after all – there’s a huge opportunity from the Bolton-born manager to instil his ideas and beliefs into all areas of the club for years to come.
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We’ve already seen a huge shift in the attitudes at Bolton under Keith Hill. Long gone are the days of Phil Parkinson’s hoofball, which has instead been replaced by a silky smooth – mostly – playing style that sees Wanderers try to keep the ball on the ground when in possession and has players chasing down the ball to win it back as quickly as possible when out of possession.
The change in styles has been a breath of fresh air for Bolton, even if we’ve not quite had the results to match just yet, and if Keith Hill is looking to one of the best managers in the world for inspiration then he’s clearly doing something right.
Despite their young age, Manchester City’s Under 21s have been no pushovers so far in the EFL Trophy and have dispatched both Rochdale and Bradford already.
Keith Hill’s Bolton side will have to be at their bright best to counter the threat of a team that is, in effect, the future of Manchester City’s first team.
For fans wishing to attend on Tuesday night, kick-off is at the slightly earlier time of 7pm with tickets priced at just £5 and free parking on offer in the club’s official car park.