Hibs Exclusive: 'Dubai cash wouldn't cover cost of star signing.'

Hibs are swapping East Mains for Dubai this week.Hibs are swapping East Mains for Dubai this week.
Hibs are swapping East Mains for Dubai this week. | SNS Group
Montgomery defends decision to invest in sunshine training camp

It’s always something of a hard sell to punters ploughing their way through the grimmest weeks of the post-festive period. A sunshine break? For guys who work two hours a day, living the dream of every supporter who ever clicked through the turnstiles?

Nick Montgomery understands why some Hibs fans responded to news of this week’s training camp in Dubai with suggestions, some more polite than others, that players should spend the Scottish Premiership shutdown being forced to do murder runs along Portobello beach. Possibly taking the odd loony dook in the water as a sort of old-fashioned ice bath treatment, just for giggles.

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When it’s suggested that the money being spent on the week-long jaunt to gentler climes might be better invested in a new signing, however, Montgomery feels compelled to correct a few misconceptions. And underline the importance of taking this group – a squad he inherited in September, long after all their habits and working patterns had been established – away for an all-immersive collective work experience beginning today.

“I think there is big value in it, especially if we get a couple of fresh faces in,” said the former Central Coast Mariners boss, who wants to make FOUR signings before the end of the month. “We want to get the boys together, get them out on the park. This trip was planned before I came into the role. I think quite a lot of clubs will use this break.

“In terms of investing the money into a player, I don’t think it’s the sort of money that is going to help get a quality player. Because they definitely don’t come cheap.

“And the value in it is getting everyone together. We can go through a lot of stuff because, when you are in that camp mentality, everyone is there and focused to go through video, look back on the first part of the season, where we need to improve.

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“After the Motherwell game we had a few days off to refresh, the same sort of thing every club will have done. But we’re going to Dubai to train hard, to continue to work on the things we need to improve on.

“We’re definitely going there for anything other than a tough training camp. And we want to come out of the end of it with everybody hopefully refreshed. A little bit of sun is always a good way to heal the body, work hard and get ready for the second part of the season.”

Part of the problem for football clubs pitching these training camps to fans, of course, is historical. There have been too many bad examples, too many fire extinguishers let off or pictures of poolside lounging leaked, to convince the most hardened cynic that the players are actually working when they’re surrounded by five-star luxury. Possibly even a bar.

Montgomery makes it clear, however, that this is very much a business trip. A working week – including a couple of bounce games against serious opposition – where he can further embed his ideas and demands. And no-one doubts that it’s easier to hold players’ attention when they aren’t buried beneath eight base layers and shielding their faces from the horizontal sleet.

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Outlining his ambitions for the second part of the season, the manager stressed – not for the first time – the need to add quality and quantity to a group desperately short of goal threat, midfield back-up and defensive strength in depth. Addressing the requirements of a group coping not only with long-term injuries but the absence of key figures on international duty at the Asian Cup and AFCON tournaments, he revealed: “I spent a couple of days after the Motherwell game reflecting on where we are, as a team. I think there has been a lot of progress on and off the field, a lot of improvement in every player.

“Looking back on the first part of the season, we could have had a lot more points on the board. But we don’t. We have to come back and fix that in the second half of the season.

“We may need a bit more quality in the final third if we’re to finish games off. We need to kill teams off when we’re on top. And cut out the small errors that have ultimately cost us goals late on in games.

“I think we’re close to being a good team. But we deserve to be where we are, with the points we have. We need to work even harder to finish higher up the table.

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“The ambition is always the same. Be competitive every week and hopefully finish in that top half of the table. I don’t think anyone has a divine right to say they’re going to finish third or fourth – but, of course, that’s where we want to finish. The league is really tight, everyone can see that. So the second half of the season is going to be really important for everybody.

“That’s why it’s so important to bring in reinforcements. Because we were nine first-team players down last week. And I still thought we played some fantastic football against Motherwell.

“We need to get new faces in and get some injured players back fit. Then the international guys will come back in however many weeks. By mid-February we should have a really strong squad. Going into the latter part of the season, that will be important.”

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