KEITH Hill is back in management, and crucially at a club who seem to welcome him.

The Boltonian boss has signed on to replace another former Wanderer, Neil Cox, at Scunthorpe United, tasked with saving the club from relegation to the National League.

Fortunes at Glanford Park have flagged significantly since the Iron pushed Wanderers for a League One promotion place in 2016/17 – their outspoken owner Peter Swann critical at the time of the budget his rivals had carried after dropping down from Championship.

To put the size of Hill’s quest into perspective, Cox recently became the eighth manager sacked by Scunthorpe in the last eight years. Recruitment methods have been heavily criticised and the table makes bleak reading, with the Lincolnshire men currently rock bottom on 11 points from 15 games.

Enter Hill, a man who has a point to prove after struggling in his two previous positions.

His 33 games in charge of Bolton yielded just six victories, making his one of the least successful reigns of any manager at the club.

He had been appointed at the UniBol in a swirl of emotion at the end of August 2019, just a couple of days after Football Ventures completed their takeover and saved the club from the abyss.

Hill and David Flitcroft completed a Supermarket Sweep of freebies and loans to hastily assemble a squad which, for a brief moment, looked like it could gel into a workable unit.

A 7-1 thrashing at Accrington Stanley brought things into stark perspective and from there on in, the Boltonian struggled to cope with the expectancy of a fanbase on his doorstep.

To make matters worse, the appointment of Tobias Phoenix as head of football operations in early 2020 was perceived as a move which undermined the manager’s authority and Hill – whose flowery rhetoric had been a happy distraction pre-Christmas – was suddenly pilloried by a large percentage of the fanbase.

His famous insistence after a 2-0 defeat at his former club Rochdale that he “knows his onions” followed him around to the bitter end with the social media crowd.

But Bolton’s support was not without sympathy for Hill’s cause – particularly with the changing structure above his head. 

More than the figure of fun some had him pinned for - the 52-year-old has infectious enthusiasm for the game, and for a short time you wondered whether that might just be enough to see Bolton overturn the 12-point deficit they received for going into administration, something he termed "The Impossible Dream".

Sadly, those positive times turned into more of a nightmare. And once the season ended prematurely in the pandemic he was left to wither on the vine with little communication from the club while they presumably sought a successor.

He bounced back quickly by securing a job at Tranmere Rovers, who had controversially dropped into the fourth tier after the truncated previous season. But his Bolton connections never sat well with the fans in Birkenhead and even though they reached the play-offs, Hill’s relationship with the terraces was virtually non-existent.

The challenge at Scunthorpe is significant but if Hill can put across his unquestionable passion for football at his new club, his CV at League Two level remains an impressive one.

The Iron are in a pickle. Hill might just be the right man to help.