ESTABLISHING a footballing ideology in the midst of a relegation battle in League One at a club emerging from administration and still under the stranglehold of an embargo is exactly as tough as it sounds.

There would be a case for Bolton – 16 points from safety – to batten down the hatches and eek out the points they can against Oxford United tonight. Survival football is seldom pretty, and after Saturday’s 6-1 defeat at Rotherham United Keith Hill could be forgiven for putting his attacking principles to one side.

But for a Boltonian who grew up admiring Bob Paisley’s all-conquering Liverpool, the hunger to impose his own attacking philosophy on the club takes precedence over pragmatism.

In short – if Wanderers are going to lose any game this season, they will do so with all guns blazing.

Hill’s sides at Rochdale and Barnsley pleased the purists. And his philosophy was at least partly responsible for him being picked as Phil Parkinson’s successor a few weeks ago.

“It’s the way I wanted to play as a player,” he said. “First and foremost I am a fan. I want to stand there and see my team play brave, attacking football.

“I appreciate defending as a team and individually you have responsibilities. But if you are going to play the way I want this team to play you have to have courage, and that will come as we get more information into the players.

“My inspiration came from watching Bob Paisley’s Liverpool – legends like Kenny Dalglish, Stevie Heighway, Alan Hansen, Kevin Keegan… Wow.

“I made my debut against Liverpool in what was then the Milk Cup and I played against Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge. They had an aura about them.

“The whole mantra of the Liverpool Way fascinated me when I was growing up. They were dominating English football, European football, but they did it in a way that was so well-planned.

“I get inspired by all sorts of football. Burnley are incredible, the way they defend. It is a progressive developing football club but, again, the work that goes into that is incredible.”

Hill refuses to go overboard about Saturday’s heavy defeat, going so far as to say he took plenty from the game that he can use in tonight’s meeting with Oxford United.

In the short-term, the new Bolton boss looks willing to gamble a few disappointing results in the expectancy that his players can adapt to his tactical and physical demands.

“There are emotional peaks and troughs in football but I think I’m quite normal,” he said.

“The world is so hyper-sensitive but I just like the simple messages. I like to look at the gains, like on Saturday, I know those players were found wanting physically. Does that mean I have to draw back a little bit? Potentially. But in the long-term, we need to play that way to develop into the team I want them to be.

“Fitness-wise we’re miles off. That isn’t my fault but it’s something me, the staff and the players will deal with over a three or four-game period.

“We need to get to the timing of the game. We were a couple of heartbeats off on Saturday, not quite getting contact with opponents, not quite being in the right position, but it’ll all come flooding back.

“The supporters will stick with us – if they do, the new era will reward them massively, no question about that. We need to fight on their behalf.”

Hill won’t put timeframes on the return to fitness of Daryl Murphy, Chris O’Grady, Harry Brockbank or Will Buckley, who were all unavailable at the weekend, nor is he about to complain that his small squad has been reduced further.

“We have to find a way with the players we’ve got. If the players are injured, they are injured. The worst thing you can have as a player is a manager who’s sat there asking ‘are you fit?’ I won’t put pressure on them to get fit and then re-injure themselves.

“It is a cause for concern. They haven’t been contact injuries, or anything to do with fatigue, they have been freakish things like Joe Bunney – a car crash, an illness, a twist of the knee unopposed. That’s where we’re at.

“We’re not in the market at the moment to recruit. We have to make the most of players we have, make sure they have a smile on their face and that they are quick learners. They will be.

“I take inspiration from the growth of other clubs – look at Coventry now, Luton Town, Portsmouth. We’re only on the first step towards that journey.