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Garry Hill: Ebbsfleet United's new manager aiming for the National League play-offs

By Steve Tervet

Garry Hill is aiming to get Ebbsfleet back in the National League play-offs this season.

He arrives at Stonebridge Road with Fleet 10 points adrift of the top seven after 19 matches.

But Hill, having replaced Daryl McMahon as manager on Thursday, believes they can make up the ground and emulate last season's lofty finish.

Ebbsfleet's new manager Garry Hill with director Dave Archer
Ebbsfleet's new manager Garry Hill with director Dave Archer

He said: "There’s a new structure at the football club going in place.

"The squad is quite big at the present time and it's a case of assessing all the way round what I think is right to go to work with, to try to take the club in the direction of getting points and pushing to where the aim should be.

"There’s a lot of work to be done but we’ve got to aim for the play-offs."

Hill took training for the first time on Thursday and is already considering which players are going to be part of his plans.

He said: "When you walk into a football club, you have to get to know your players and staff members straight away.

"You have to find out which players haven’t been playing, why they haven’t been playing and you ask those players whether they’ve been unlucky with injuries or if they’ve been unlucky with respect to team selection.

"The best form of guidance is with your own eyes and that will be the case.

"I look at some of the results already this season when they’ve gone away against strong teams and they’ve done very well.

"But the home form hasn’t been good enough. Only winning two league games at home is not good enough, we can all agree on that.

Ebbsfleet are 15th in the National League Picture: Andy Jones
Ebbsfleet are 15th in the National League Picture: Andy Jones

"There don’t seem to be enough goals in the home games and that’s an important factor going forward.

"When you create chances in the Conference, they’ve got to be taken because that’s the difference between winning and not."

Hill, who spent six-and-a-half years at Woking in his last managerial job, laid out the blueprint for his Ebbsfleet side.

He said: "They’ve got to work hard and have the commitment on a consistent basis. For the quality to come through, you’ve got to win your battles and earn the right to play football.

"There will be, when the time is right, one or two changes. I’ll look at the playing squad and I’d like to think, in my own mind, it can be strengthened in one or two areas subject to that being supported by the club."

Hill will work alongside Ian Hendon, the former Gillingham coach, with the rest of his backroom staff yet to be confirmed.

He said: "There’s still staff at the football club and we’re not going in there to rock the boat straight away.

"I will look at the playing squad, I will look at certain things within the staff at the football club and assess it all to take the football club in the right direction.

"There’s members of staff as well as the playing squad and it’s all got to be assessed going forward.

Daryl McMahon's reign as Ebbsfleet manager ended on Wednesday Picture: Andy Jones
Daryl McMahon's reign as Ebbsfleet manager ended on Wednesday Picture: Andy Jones

"It’s been quite openly documented there’s got to be a football team and a football club in place to have stability in the right direction going forward."

Hill said his appointment came "out of the blue" following McMahon's departure by mutual consent on Wednesday.

He's back in management 18 months after keeping Woking up on the final day of the 2016/17 season.

Hill said: "I’ve had an enjoyable break but there comes a time when you are ready. I’ve had one or two opportunities and also talked to one or two different clubs.

"A club like Ebbsfleet is a tremendous boost because there’s a lot of quality players at the football club.

"There’s a lot of hard work gone into the football club to take it in the right direction, on and off the field in a big way over the last few years.

"When you go into a football club, a large percentage of times, teams are in a very unhealthy position in the league table or they lack a lot of quality.

"For whatever reason, Ebbsfleet are underachieving with respect to the quality of players they’ve got at the club after such a successful season last year and over the last two or three years.

Ebbsfleet host Cheltenham in the FA Cup first round on Saturday Picture: Andy Jones
Ebbsfleet host Cheltenham in the FA Cup first round on Saturday Picture: Andy Jones

"The previous manager and his staff and the players have done very well but I’m looking forward to the challenge going forward.

"There’s some very good experienced players at the club and a lot of young potential quality players at the club, which is a very big benefit going forward."

Hill was linked with the Maidstone job when Jay Saunders left in August and has been spotted in the stands around Kent.

"I’ve been to watch a lot of games," he said. "You don’t want to go to the same ground continuously because it sometimes a little bit awkward if things aren’t going correctly for a certain club.

"You try to share Conference and Conference South games out, looking at players and teams just in case something comes along, that you’ve done a certain amount of homework."

Hill's first game in charge of Ebbsfleet will be against League 2 Cheltenham in the FA Cup first round on Saturday.

He said: "To go into a football club 48 hours before an FA Cup game against a Football League side, it's a great game.

"I’ve had some wonderful experiences in the FA Cup and I’m sure there’s some players in the squad who have also experienced that.

"There are some young players in that squad who should take this opportunity to go out there and express themselves.

"There’s always a club which comes out with flying colours in the FA Cup and hopefully that’s going to be Ebbsfleet this season."

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