Exclusive: Scott Brown on Hibs transfer hopes and Monty's 'Man City tactics'
Former Scotland skipper delivers verdict on Easter Road gaffer
Former Hibs and Scotland star Scott Brown believes Nick Montgomery is just a couple of smart signings away from cracking the code at Easter Road.
And the ex-Celtic skipper has backed Monty’s ‘Man City tactics’ to dominate SPFL opponents.
Brown, who expects the new gaffer to target a striker in his first transfer window since replacing Lee Johnson in September, has been impressed by aspects of his old team’s play over the past couple of months.
Thrilled to see youngsters like Rory Whittaker and Josh Landers exposed to first-team football, a journey he made himself as part of a golden generation back in the early 2000s, the former midfielder is confident that the boss is on the right track.
“He needs a transfer window to bring in a couple of his own players, which he will definitely do,” said Brown, who was impressed with Montgomery when they met at David Gray’s testimonial match last month.
“But, from what I’ve seen so far, they’ve been controlling games. He’s playing 4-4-2. He’s got a couple of players coming back in who are probably just lacking a bit of fitness.
“Martin Boyle isn’t long back, Dylan Levitt is just back in the team, really. They probably need game time just to get themselves back up to speed.
“But I’m sure Nick will do a fantastic job at Hibs this season. He wants to play the right way. He wants to play proper football but can also mix it up as well.
“I think he’ll look for another striker. He’s relied a lot on Boyle having to go up and play as a forward.
“I think Boyle’s best position is out wide, running at people, creating chances, getting in at the back stick. So I think he’ll be looking to get another striker in.
“Possibly he might need another midfielder and a defender, as well. Because I know Paul Hanlon and Lewis Stevenson aren’t getting any younger – they’ve been fantastic for the club over the years – and he’ll want competition for them.
“Everyone needs that little bit of time and those windows to bring your own players in.
“He’s already put his own philosophy in place, getting the lads to play the way he wants them to play, and they seem to be reacting to that.”
Defending Montgomery’s adherence to the 4-4-2 formation, Brown can’t see the logic in complaining about a defensive shape good enough for Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering City.
“I think, if you look at Man City right now, when they’re in that mid to low block, they go into a 4-4-2 as well,” he explained, adding: “Then it’s all about the two outside wingers, how they’re going to press.
“With Hibs, it’s compact, they’re locking the middle of the park really well, forcing teams to go outside them. Then it’s all about getting the left and right midfielders to do their job, tracking back and working hard.
Scott Brown was speaking to Edinburgh Evening News on behalf of luckyblock.com.
“If they do that properly, Hibs are a hard team to play against. And, as you’ve seen, they can go and get results.
“They just need to pick up a few more wins at home, get better at putting games away when they’re a couple of goals up.
“They’ve maybe just fallen short in having that quality player to come off the bench, as well as adding some fresh legs.”
Asked to offer advice to the youth team players suddenly dealing with promotion to the first team, Brown – who burst onto the scene alongside the likes of Steven Whittaker and Kevin Thomson - said: “For me, I’d say make sure you get a good couple of seasons under your belt. Your aim should be to get established in the Hibs first team, more than anything.
“Rory has done really, really well. I watched him against St Mirren, he played 65 minutes from the start – and he did look like he can easily fit into that team.
“He’s good competition for Lewis Miller at right back. For a young kid at 16, to do as well as he has done, to become the youngest player, that’s fantastic for him – and I’m sure his family will be proud of him.
“I’m sure all his mates at school are proud of him too!
“Our squad was pretty much full of young ones at the time because the club had to get rid of all the big hitters. We were the lucky ones to come through.
“We thrived off everyone coming in at the same time. And I’m sure all the young lads seeing Rory coming in, Josh getting game time, will feel there are opportunities to go from the under-18s straight into the first team.