TUCKER, St James — Newly appointed technical director/head coach of promoted Montego Bay United (MBU) Ricky Hill is backing himself to make an impact on the Jamaican Premier League which was set to get underway this weekend with games at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence.
The much-travelled coach, who has had success in Florida and Trinidad and Tobago, said while his track record speaks for itself and he was expecting success, he knows he has his work cut out for him.
Hill, who was tipped to take over the national junior programme, and who was introduced at a press conference at the club's headquarters at WesPow Park last week, told the Jamaica Observer he likes the team he has been handed and thinks once players are able to grasp his methods, they should do well.
“If you examine my track record in warm climates... in Florida on two occasions I was coach of the year. I have won the North American Soccer League (NASL), I have won four out of five trophies in Trinidad and Tobago — including the CFU club trophy with Jobloteh, for the first time in their history,” he pointed out. “So I believe that I am more than well-versed in order to create an attractive winning team and what's more, I got younger players which is in my wheelhouse whereby I am used guiding, educating, nurturing and teaching young people.”
Hill, a former England international, added: “I am hoping that what we lack in experience we will make up in efficiency, enthusiasm and execution, and be competitive in every single game and learn something in every single game.”
He had been in the island just over a week, but said he was happy with what he saw of the players who, prior to his arrival, had been taking instructions from Dr Dean Weatherly and Dwayne Ambusley.
“I am pleasantly surprised with a number of things regarding the players. [Firstly,] I think they are a hard-working group. They are a committed group, they are a disciplined group for young people,” Hill said.
“They are very young. Our goalkeeper is our oldest player and he is 28 and it goes down to 22 and under, so we will lack what you consider to be real experience at the Premier League level; and the only way to gain experience is by playing and gaining experience, so it's going to be a learning curve,” he added.
Youth, Hill shared, has a lot of advantages, if properly harnessed.
“The element of youth should never [cause one] to be fearful; it's never trepidation.Reputation means nothing on paper. If they go and impose themselves in the manner that I am expecting them to, I believe that they will pleasantly surprise themselves. And also, we can grow and improve every single week, every single game — the aim is to get better,” he reasoned.
According to the rules of the competition, none of the 12 teams taking part will be relegated at the end of the season but Hill said while it would give him some cushion to work with, he had no plans to be at the foot of the points tables.
“I am a person that, for sure, does not accept being last in anything, so our aim is to be first. Whether we achieve that is not down to only us, but the standard of the league,” Hill noted.
He is not expecting the JPL to be easy, and he is ready to roll up his sleeves and work hard. “I know that there are a number of players who are playing in the league now who are internationals, or former internationals, former overseas players, so I am not deluded into thinking that it is going to be all a bed of roses.
“We know that there are going to be tough times but the tough times is what is going to make these players better. And those players who can ride out the tough times will be the ones that will have it within them to then take it forward in their own personal development and flourish,” Hill concluded.