Ricky Hill: I would have had difficulty playing under Jose Mourinho

Luton Town legend Ricky Hill admits he wold struggle to play for some of the top managers in the game these days, including former Manchester United and Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho.

Friday, 15th November 2019, 2:51 pm
Updated Friday, 15th November 2019, 2:52 pm
Ricky Hill with Paul Walsh and former Town boss David Pleat

The 60-year-old, who holds his first 'evening with' at Venue 360 tonight, became a star at Kenilworth Road during his 15-year career with the Hatters, playing 508 times, scoring 65 goals.

He won three England caps during that time as well, regarded as one of, if not, the best player to wear the Luton shirt.

However, if his time came around now, Hill thinks he might not enjoy playing as much in the modern era, saying: “I always miss the playing days, I loved playing, but I’m a little bit tainted, because there’s a cautiousness that’s come into the game now.

“In terms of managers, coaches, in terms of the spirit of the game, how they set their teams out.

“They call it tactical and that you have to move with the times and different tactical scenarios.

“Now I say a lot of it for me, it seems to be based on fear, the fear on losing.

“No-one likes to lose, but in order to win, you have to take risks, so I’m not a great fan of when they talk about these new modern terminologies, such as the deep block.

“Everyone drops out and stays by their box, bring eight men back and the number 10 drops in, that’s all good and well but when you win the ball back, you’re still 80 yards away from the goal, and you’re hoping to score a goal?

“We were raised by it was about scoring more goals that the opposition could, so staying closer to the goal, attack that as often as you can, ‘get them on the back foot.’

“My philosophy as a coach or as a player, was, it’s easier to destroy than create.

“So staying back and blocking, okay it might say I’m destroying them here, but you’re not going to create anything and you’re ultimately not going to score many goals as you’re relying on set-pieces.

“It’s not entertainment for the fans and I understand there are teams out there who might be far superior to the other side, so we have to do something that gives us the opportunity.

“But I just think sometimes you’ve got to believe in your players, believes in your philosophy, take that philosophy wherever you go.

“David Pleat and Harry Haslam before him always taught me, ‘get our strategy right, lets do what we do right and let them worry about us.’

“Players are called professional because they’ve earned the right to be a professional as they’re of a high standard of ability.

“Now if you take that away from them, telling them what you want from them every step of the way, I think that will take a little bit of the fun away.

“If I was playing in this day, I would have difficulty in playing for someone like Jose Mourinho, people who rely on structure, shape and a plan of action, and I don’t think my spirit would be tamed enough to do that.

“Not that I couldn’t do it, but I think I was a free spirit when I was playing, the managers I worked with generally always allowed me to do what I do best, which was to go and get involved in the game."

These days, it's virtually unheard of for a player to remain at the same club for such a lengthy period, with Hill making his debut at Kenilworth Road in April 1976, his last game coming against Everton on the same ground in May 1989.

On his lengthy career with the Hatters, he added: "In the early days, when you’re younger, you tend to look from day to day, in regards to, the next game.

"You don’t really look too far in the future, or plan for the future, but I was happy to be part of the club.

"I was fortunate to be part of the club as growing up in the times when I grew up, there was a lack of black players at all levels, in all clubs throughout the country.

"I’d seen many players, including my older brother, who was as good as player as me, or may I say better than I was, and he was never invited for a trial anywhere.

"Others I knew, who I played with, were exceptionally talented and I couldn’t believe they were not footballers.

"So I made it part of my calling that anyone I knew who I saw on the field or in the communities that I thought had ability I always tried to open an opportunity for them.

"Even through I was still playing, I would recommend them to our coaching staff to have a look at and a few have gone on, Enoch Showunmi played and Junior Agogo, who passed away recently unfortunately, I took him to Sheffield Wednesday, so there was quite a number.

"I always found myself thinking 'I’m one of the fortunate few as not many have been given this opportunity.'

"So I tried to maximise it the best I could, I tried as hard as I could, every game meant something to me and I would try to just go out and do my best at all times."