Following the dismissal of manager Martin Allen, Eastleigh have announced that former boss Richard Hill is to return to the club as Director of Football.
Hill was Spitfires manager between 2012 and 2015, leading the club to the National League South title in 2014 and reaching the National League play-off semi-finals in the following season.
He left the club in September 2015, describing the decision as the “right” move for all parties.
At the time he spoke to the local media saying “I’ve no axe to grind and no bitterness,” said Hill, stating simply that the time was “right” to leave.
“I’ve worked for a fantastic chairman, Stewart Donald, who has been amazing to me for three years. There’s never been a cross word, he’s never interfered, he’s a manager’s dream.
“I’ve had three good seasons but there comes a point, especially in football, when it’s time to go.
“Like I’ve always said, it’s not important who manages Eastleigh, what’s important is that the club is successful.”
Since departing the Spitfires Hill went on to manage Whitehawk but left the National League South club in November 2016 to join SkyBet Championship club Aston Villa as part of their recruitment team.
He now returns to Eastleigh, where the club say he will “evaluate and manage all footballing aspects of the club including selecting a replacement manager”.
In an honest and open statement Spitfires chairman Stewart Donald apologised to the club’s supporters for a number of his decisions this season.
The statement in full read “At the start of this season Eastleigh had high hopes of challenging for promotion.
Clearly there has been far too much change for this to be achieved and the managerial changes have not had the desired affect.
This is solely the fault of the chairman who would like to apologise to the loyal fans who deserve much better.
Mistakes have been made, albeit with the best of intentions, however it has been a costly and unsettling period which has seen the club unfortunately struggle rather than build on previous progress.
With this in mind, it is important the decision made regarding a replacement manager is considered and thorough.
The club need more football expertise to ensure the best chance of future success and progression.
Therefore, the club have appointed previous manager Richard Hill with immediate effect to assist and give the club much-needed guidance.
Hill will join as director of football. In the short-term he will take charge of the team, assisted by Craig McAllister, Ben Strevens and Lee Peacock.
He will add the relevant experience and manage the team through this next period.
In the longer-term, Hill will evaluate and manage all footballing aspects of the club including selecting a replacement manager.
Hill is obviously well-known to Eastleigh fans and has huge affection for the club and it is vital that the club have someone of Hill’s calibre and expertise to help with the decisions.
Club chairman Stewart Donald commented: “I can only unreservedly apologise for what I have put our fans, players and staff through this season. I genuinely thought all decisions made were right at the time but it is clear I have got this wrong. It has affected everyone’s enjoyment, none more than myself.
“I am hopeful that by bringing Richard in he will stabilise the club and then help push us on again. He did a fantastic job when he was here last time. He would walk to the club to come back he loves it so much, and I feel this passion coupled with his football knowledge will help us get things right and be vital in ensuring we, or to be clearer and more accurate me, from continuing to make mistakes in such a fundamental area”
The Spitfires sit in fifteenth position in the National League table and head to play-off challenging Dover Athletic on Saturday.
Article: Mark Carruthers (@markndaily)
Image: Reuters Media