SITTING at his desk at 8am on a Thursday morning, paper cup of coffee in hand, and the Lostock wind rattling the walls of his office, Keith Hill is a contented man.

He has never managed a club with its own training complex and rushes across town every morning to be the first through the gates of the Eddie Davies Academy – still a classy operation despite all of recent financial woes.

Wanderers are a football club again. Players, called in early these days, pull up in the car park and give the thumbs up through the window over the manager’s shoulder, medical and coaching staff dart between the buildings ready to set up the day’s sessions, and the canteen is open for business.

It is all a far cry from the padlocks and pain witnessed earlier this year, when the club’s chef had to buy supplies out of his own pocket to feed the players, hot water was at a premium because equipment had failed. Even line paint had to be borrowed from local non-league clubs to mark out the pitches.

The man who used to occupy the seat now being enjoyed by Hill, Phil Parkinson, visited the UniBol on Monday night as a studio guest for Sky Sports. Now relaxed and free from the crushing pressures which had been heaped upon him during three years at Bolton, he looked a different person chatting to staff and media in the tunnel before nipping into the manager’s office to wish him well.

Oh the tales he could swap with his successor of the Ken Anderson days. But Hill admits he did not seek Parkinson’s counsel when he vigorously pursued the job in August.

Before his appointment, Hill had been out of work for five months. Offers had been forthcoming – but when the Bolton hotseat was suddenly vacated he knew exactly what to do.

“I know Phil and did my A Licence with him, he’s a great guy, and obviously know Steve Parkin very well. It was good to see him after the game, he looks well,” Hill told The Bolton News.

“It had been tough. Football can do that to you. I felt exactly the same when I left Rochdale.

“That time away brought back the enthusiasm, brought me back to life. I missed the training pitch.

“Sometimes in this job you take too much pressure on, or you try and hide people from the pressure to protect them, but ultimately it affects you and it shouldn’t do, really.

“I hadn’t really spoken to him before coming in here, and you might think that’s a bit odd but I didn’t want to into anywhere with a preconceived idea of ‘who’s this, who’s that’.

“I like to find out myself even if it means jumping in at the deep end. I don’t like to ask too many opinions. I like to make my own mind up about individuals and the environment and change it accordingly, so it fits in with what we’re trying to achieve.

“It’s always horses for courses. Different managers have different ideas and there’s no one way to do things, or ‘this is the gospel of football’.

“I didn’t really want people to reflect on the situation at the football club and then suggest to me how it could be handled, I wanted to deal with things my way, not sided one way or another.

“I really did want this job and I there was nothing that was going to deter me.”

Hill spent 12 years at Rochdale, who come to the UniBol on Saturday as Wanderers resume League One action, either side of a spell at Barnsley.

Getting back into football quickly was always the aim but the 50-year-old was determined to do his own homework and passed up on a handful of offers before getting wind that the Bolton job could be available.

One such chance was at Bury – then looking for a successor to Ryan Lowe after he moved to Plymouth. Talks were held with owner Steve Dale but Hill’s gut feeling that all was not right within the camp proved entirely correct, as witnessed by the club’s sad demise.

“I turned jobs down because they just didn’t feel right,” he said – avoiding a direct reference to the Shakers out of respect. “There was always something in the back of my mind and I knew the next move had to be the right one from a football perspective.

“When Bolton became available, I just thought ‘I have got to do everything I can to get in front of Sharon (Brittan)’.

“I don’t have big football mates who can do favours for me and get me in front of people. That leaves me a bit vulnerable sometimes.

“Actually getting in front of people you need mates in influential positions within football but this was something we really wanted to do and we got the job done.

“I still think this job ticks every single box on what I have done in my career as a manager.

“I still see it as an unbelievable opportunity to develop a new playing identity and getting a whole town buying into it and believing it.

“I live in Bolton and I want to socialise in Bolton, my family is here. I have no fear going out in the town because I put everything of myself, and so does David (Flitcroft), into the job we’re doing.”

Had his gut feeling not warned Hill off other offers, and most notably that from Bury, then he would have been back looking for a job at the end of 2019 along with several other unfortunate staff at Gigg Lane. In the end, the timing of Parkinson’s departure now looks most favourable.

“For everything a reason, Ian Brown said,” Hill smiles – ever willing to bring a bit of levity to the conversation.

“I don’t reflect too much on it. The biggest risk of all is not taking the risk.

“For whatever reason the jobs didn’t appeal and I am sat here because of the 12 years I have done in management. The CV stacks up for the demands of this football club right here, right now. If it was in the Championship I wouldn’t be here, I don’t think.

“But the situation the club and the owners find themselves in at the moment – my CV stacks up against anybody’s anywhere in the game. I back myself on that.

“Money spent, players developed, we are the right management team and we’ll put it back on course.”

Hill also revealed that this summer was not the first time he had actively pursued the Bolton job.

Dougie Freedman’s departure five years ago, with Wanderers sitting in the Championship relegation zone and still under the ownership of Eddie Davies, offered an appetising prospect.

“The irony was that I couldn’t get in front of anyone at Bolton at that time but I was being offered a job elsewhere in the Championship,” Hill said.

“I was thinking ‘should I have been hanging out with all those people who could have got me in there?’ “I keep myself quite isolated from all that. Outside of football I don’t want to be part of that unreal world. I want to go out with my mates who work on building sites, roofers, painters and decorators. That’s my life – it’s real, my family is real.

“I don’t want this exclusive lifestyle. I want to make sure I get opportunities for the rest of my life in football that suit me and what I can do.”

And as the fan heater kicks up a notch on the office floor, Hill brings the interview to a close.

Wanderers – and indeed their manager – may be a long way from the Premier League excesses and luxury lifestyles of the past but for this exact moment in history they seem to have found the perfect fit.

“It doesn’t matter how I got here,” Hill concludes. “We absolutely craved the opportunity but we did it. And we are going to build again. I promise.”