Hibs boss Nick Montgomery explains Sheffield United bowling with Neil Warnock that left stars stunned

The pair were at Sheffield United together and come face-to-face when Hibs meet Aberdeen.

The all singing and all shouting tales of one of UK football's most colourful characters are well-known, with Hibs boss Nick Montgomery front and centre for some of the classics.

Dying for three points and blasts of unhappiness, the 75-year-old has toned down the aggression and is now looking to guide Aberdeen into the top six. His former midfielder at Sheffield United will be keen to ensure that doesn't happen, not at Hibs' expense anyway.

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Both sides have had mixed campaigns in the Premiership but Saturday's meeting provides a chance to stake a major claim to fight for European places. Montgomery admits it will be an odd experience coming to blows from Warnock, who was the boss when making his Sheffield United debut, the start of a 12-year senior stint at the Blades.

The Hibs boss said: “It will be a little strange. Neil gave me my debut as a 17-year-old at Sheffield United.

“You can do the maths but it’s been a long time and I’m sure it will be an experience being on the sideline with him, but in the opposing dugout. It will probably be the first time I have seen him face to face in over 10 years."

One question that Montgomery knows not to ask of the Aberdeen manager is fire in the belly. A query of mellow nature can be put forward now, but that's not what Montgomery is used to, as he recalled an eccentric tale of bowling delight for Warnock and what he's taken from him.

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He said: “Most of them have been documented but the bowling one is the one that stands out. I remember that first hand. It was a day where there was heavy snow or waterlogged, so we cancelled training and decided to go bowling instead.

“No-one had any idea the gaffer had been a professional bowler in a past life! Everyone chucked £20 and he was more than happy to clean up at the end. It was funny being there. That’s the sort of stuff Neil did. There are so many stories like that.

“It just shows you underestimate him at anything at your peril. He has definitely mellowed compared to how he used to be. He’s retired six times and I’ve sent him six ‘enjoy your retirement’ messages - then six more ‘welcome back’ messages! I’ll probably avoid that in the future!

"People go on about his man management and he’s the sort of manager that, when you play for him, if he likes you you get on with him and if he doesn’t you don’t last long at the club.

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“That’s a pattern throughout his career. But he was always honest and I have definitely taken parts of working with him into my own career.

“He has definitely changed, he’s not as colourful with referees as he used to be and maybe he doesn’t shout as much anymore. But he’s done really well and had a fantastic career as a manager.

“I’m not sure what will happen on Saturday but I’m passionate, he’s passionate and it’s two teams wanting to win a game of football. No matter what we will definitely be shaking hands before and after the game."

Montgomery's side have had a full week to prepare for the Dons clash, while their hosts on Saturday had to come back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Motherwell on Wednesday. It's something the Hibs boss has kept an eye on, as he admits the squad at Easter Road is as strong as it has been throughout his tenure.

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He added: "They had to dig themselves out of a hole. They showed good fight in the second half. It’s always tricky going 3-0 down early in the game.

“But they showed good character and fight. They have got a good squad so they made changes and they were probably unlucky not to win it.

"We’ve had plenty of weeks where we have had multiple games. It was 90 minutes plus injury time, and they’ve had a couple of days to get ready. They built a squad to cope with European football so there is a lot of strength in depth. So I don’t see that being an issue for them.

"It’s been well documented we really did get hit by the international window with two boys in the Asian Cup and two in the African Nations. We’ve had a long injury list as well. I look at the squad now and it’s probably the first time I’ve had to leave someone off the bench.

“It’s a headache you want as a manager. Picking your team you want your best players available and a strong bench. Right now we are in a real strong place moving forward.”

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