The simple message Hibs boss has hammered into players

Will Fish has been discussing Nick Montgomery’s impact at Hibs

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Play more football. A simple message. And it’s one that Nick Montgomery has been hammering home in his first couple of weeks as Hibs boss. If not everyone will appreciate the odd heart-in-mouth moment that goes with building from the back and passing through the most intense pressing, the players at least seem to be on board.

For Will Fish, raised in an English Premier League academy system that prioritised possession and technique, the transition has been straightforward. The on-loan Manchester United defender said: “The new manager does like to play more football than we did previously.

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“It’s probably more, for me personally, playing out from the back; he wants everyone to be comfortable on the pitch. If that means putting your foot on the ball, he wants you to do that. I like to play that way and I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of performances we can put in this year.

“He doesn’t just do it because he wants to. There is reasoning behind it, and I’ve been really impressed with the tactical side of it from him and his staff. I suppose it’s different to what we’ve been doing. If the manager wants you to play like that and he has your trust, then you are going to do it. If you do mess up, depending on the scenario … I think if you have his full backing and the lads play to the game plan, I think we’ll be fine.”

Admitting that it comes more naturally to someone brought through the youth ranks at United, Fish – in his second season on loan at Easter Road - said: “Yeah, I’d definitely say so, more football based than maybe going direct more. Last year was a good experience for me and I learned a lot. But with this manager I am looking forward to trying to kick on again and playing his style of football.”

There is usually a bit of formality and stiffness, uncertainty more than anything, when a new manager arrives on the premises. It can take a while for players to relax and be themselves. Fish said that hadn’t been an issue with straight-talking Montgomery, insisting: “To be honest the gaffer has been great.

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“Even from when he first came in you could tell his man management skills are very good. He’ll put an arm around you if needed, he wants to find out more about you as a person. From day one that has been obvious - and I think the lads have taken to that.”