But, while some see the veteran manager as a controversial and opinionated figure, the new Hibs boss says he always appreciated his straight-talking approach.
Montgomery was announced as the latest head coach of the Leith club at the start of the week and has spent the week getting to know the majority of the players he inherited and welcoming back others from international duty. Hoping to make a winning start to his Scottish football career, and build on the first league victory of the season, picked up against Aberdeen during David Gray’s interim reign, he will take his troops to Kilmarnock on Saturday. There he will give the fans and the wider public a first peek at what the future could look like under the former Central Coast Mariners gaffer. To ensure that is a positive experience, he will tap into the best bits of all his previous bosses, including current Huddersfield Town chief, Warnock, who has been a frequent attendee at Scottish Premiership games over the years
“I played for Neil Warnock for a long time, he gave me my debut at 17, 18,” said Montgomery. “People see him ranting and raving on YouTube and they still send me [clips] now. In terms of his man-management he was always honest, he would tell you if you were playing or weren’t playing and, whether you agreed with it or not, you really respected that as a player. I respected that. I spoke to Neil a while back, he contacted me before the final last year and said a lot of nice things about me. But I haven’t spoken to anyone about Hibs.
“I’ve been fortunate because I’ve worked with Brian Kidd, Bryan Robson, Kevin Blackwell, I spent time with Mike Whelan when he came to Australia for a year and he’s a good mentor for me. So, I’ve got good people within the game that I can pick the phone up to if I want advice and now I’m working with Brian McDermott [Hibs’ director of football], a top football man. I do think it’s important [as a manager] that you have support but, ultimately, I’m my own man and make my own decisions.”
Regarded the most promising young manager in the A League after guiding one of the least fashionable and most cash-strapped clubs in the division to glory, Montgomery is not one who feels comfortable using words like philosophies but he is passionate at bringing youngsters through the ranks and improving everyone in the squad, using coaching and man-management. For now, his focus is on making a positive impression on the team but he says he would welcome a visit from his former Sheffield United gaffer in the future.
“Neil has a few properties scattered around so no doubt he will be knocking me up for some tickets one day when he’s up here,” added Montgomery. “He’s a great character, a great guy and I have a lot of time for him.” But, for now, it’s not his old manager’s honest chat he is looking for, it’s his new player’s honest endeavour, as they attempt to build momentum and move up the league.