John Hughes names the inevitable Hibs challenge Nick Montgomery has inherited and why boss deserves backing

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The former Hibs manager has discussed with the Edinburgh Evening News his thoughts on all things Easter Road right now.

There's signs for optimism in the long-term at Hibs and John Hughes can sense it.

The former manager has watched on over a hit and miss couple of years for the Easter Road club on the pitch. He senses third spot being the ultimate ambition for the 38-game Premiership season but they have not returned to such heights since Jack Ross' stewardship.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Shaun Maloney and Lee Johnson tried but those reigns ultimatley failed to meet the lofty ambitions ownership have for the club. And now billionaire Bournemouth owner Bill Foley is on the scene with a minority investment, those goals will likely be cemented.

There's a challenge current boss Nick Montgomery has inherited from the many managers before him though, according to Hughes. Speculation has mounted over the futures of club legends Paul Hanlon and Lewis Stevenson, with their contract expiring this summer.

Veteran goalkeeper David Marshall and striker Adam Le Fondre's deals also come to a close at the end of this season. With David Gray, Darren McGregor and Ryan Porteous all retiring or departing in the latter's case in recent seasons, the 59-year-old senses replacing a Hibs identity has fallen at Montgomery's door. A goalkeeper replacement job though is something he does have an answer for.

"Call it what, I call it a Hibs identity," Hughes told the Edinburgh Evening News. "I am going right back to David Gray, Darren McGregor, Ryan Porteous. The guys who know what it's about. I'm not having a go at anyone but they know the values of the club and what it takes. They set a standard.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"They know the Scottish game and they are 100% committed to the cause. That is really difficult to replace. I am even looking now, they are struggling to replace Gray, McGregor, Hanlon, Stevenson, Porteous. I think Nick Montgomery has got it, it's fell on his lap.

"I have been saying that. When these guys are going, I am looking for the next one. The day all these guys are finished it is going to be very difficult to replace them. To get that Hibs guy in, that identity, the guy who will bleed for the club.

"Big Marsh I would be giving another year and looking to see if I could get another goalkeeper. I would be saying to him you can fight for it for another year. Marshall has that experience, knows how it's done and commands that respect. And he is still a right good goalkeeper.

"I would be looking to renew his contract and I love Adam Le Fondre. I think he is unfortunate with injuries. When he comes on you can see he has played at a high level."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

One pressing difficulty for any club is recruitment, and Hughes knows it. But there are three January arrivals that give him hope that a consistent corner can be turned under the former Central Coast Mariners gaffer.

"There's been a lot of money wasted, I am not having a go, it's just recruitment is the hardest thing to get right at any football club," he explained.

"There's been a few that haven't worked out. I like the look of what they have now, Emiliano Marcondes can play. Myziane Maolida, very good. Nathan Moriah-Welsh looks like he's got legs. We need to get behind this manager and I wish him all the best. I hope he gets success, the club deserves success."

Since Neil Lennon left in the 2018/19 season, Jack Ross and Lee Johnson have both had one full term, the 20/21 and 22/23 campaigns. Outside that, there's been at least one managerial change and Hughes insists stability over a long haul must be targeted.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Currently sitting in the bottom six though and 24 points off third-placed Edinburgh rivals Hearts, the former boss and player of four years at Easter Road knows that won't be accepted. What will be is best of the rest outside Celtic and Rangers, with silverware charges.

"I like a lot of the stuff Hibs have done," Hughes added. "First and foremost with the manager, Hibs can't keep going through managers once a year. You have to give Nick Montgomery a chance. I am behind him 200%.

"In saying that, I am saying we have to give him a chance, I am saying to the supporters we need to give him a chance. I will put my hand up and everyone else will put their hand up, and say it's unacceptable to be over 20 points behind Hearts.

"I think everybody knows what the remit is at Hibs, especially with the money invested in the club in terms of playing staff and with money coming in with Bill Foley, you can't sweep it under the carpet. It's to get third spot that takes you into Europe.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"When you are Hibs manager, you need to finish above Hearts, get to cup finals and semi-finals. I think you have to get that third spot. I think that is why you are putting the money to get that third spot, so you are getting your money back if you get into Europe."

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.