Hurting Will Fish says Hibs can succeed under Nick Montgomery as Man Utd loanee speaks on future

The defender says failing to reach the top six is down to the players

Hibs defender Will Fish has thrown his backing behind current manager Nick Montgomery, saying that the club’s failure to reach the top six of the Premiership is down to the players.

The Easter Road outfit conceded a stoppage-time equaliser to draw 1-1 with Motherwell on Saturday, consigning them to bottom-six football for the final five fixtures of the season. Had they held on for victory, they would have leapt above Dundee into sixth place ahead of the rearranged match against Rangers on Wednesday. But the draw, coupled with the Dee’s 0-0 result at Aberdeen, ended Hibs’ aspirations and killed off any chance of finishing in the European places.

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Hibs manager Nick Montgomery, who branded the situation a “failure”, is now under considerable pressure from a growing section of the club’s fanbase, who are unhappy at missing out on top-six football. The 42-year-old arrived from Central Coast Mariners in September to replace sacked boss Lee Johnson but unlike his predecessor, he was unable to deliver the baseline league target despite reaching the semi-finals of the League Cup and the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup. However, central defender Fish – who is on loan from Manchester United – backed Montgomery to turn fortunes around.

Will Fish called Hibs' late collapse at Motherwell 'a sickener' as they missed out on the top six.Will Fish called Hibs' late collapse at Motherwell 'a sickener' as they missed out on the top six.
Will Fish called Hibs' late collapse at Motherwell 'a sickener' as they missed out on the top six.

Asked if the foundations are in place for Hibs to be more successful next term, Fish responded: “Definitely. There are still players out on loan now, the guys that are here contracted to Hibs are all good players. I believe the management team will be successful. But right now it's hard to look that far and we've got to focus on now until the end of the season, and start fresh in the summer.

“It's something that's never crossed my mind or any of the players' minds that they [the management team] can't be successful at this club because we see it day in, day out. Their tactical in their thought and in their training, and the amount of effort they put in to making us better. Everyone can see that. We've had a few bad results this season that is on the players, nothing to do with the management. I think given time they will turn it around.”

Hibs’ propensity for conceding late goals has cost them throughout this campaign. At Fir Park, they led through Myziane Maolida's 65th-minute penalty after Fish was bundled over by Stephen O’Donnell and in windy conditions, looked to have survived a late Motherwell siege. But in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Hibs could not deal with a long throw-in and defender Shane Blaney fired home to break the visitors’ hearts, with the dejected players strewn across the pitch at the final whistle.

“It's a sickener,” continued Fish. “It's going to take a while to digest. We've thrown away too many good opportunities this season. Motherwell was another prime example of that. It can't happen and that's on us. We have to take responsibility for that. It will take a few days but we need to pick ourselves up and go again.

Hibs manager Nick Montgomery and his assistant Sergio Raimundo.Hibs manager Nick Montgomery and his assistant Sergio Raimundo.
Hibs manager Nick Montgomery and his assistant Sergio Raimundo.

“We've had so many times when we've been in front in games and we've conceded in the last minute, last ten minutes, for whatever reason. That's on the players and we know that. It hurts. I think it will take a few days, first and foremost, to let it digest. I think everyone needs to go away and we need to have a look at ourselves and what's gone wrong this season. The only thing we can do now is go and play for the badge and win the last five games that are available. The lads are gutted. We've only got ourselves to blame.

“I feel like I've failed – the team is now in the bottom six. I've played a lot of those games. I need to look at myself and that hurts as well. No-one out there never gives less than 100 per cent. We've had a few things go against us this year and sloppy moments like that in the last minute has cost us. I'd never say it's down to effort or training. But that's football and it hurts.

“We apologise to the fans as well because we feel their backing every week. It'll hurt them just as much as us. It's tough to take and we apologise.”

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Fully aware of what the club’s ambitions should be, Fish added: “It's obviously third. I do believe the squad we had this season was good enough to do that. For whatever reason results have gone against us and it's worked out. Third and we want to be playing in Europe. We've had some great days and away days in Europe which will stick with me forever. That is where the club should be and us as players can only apologise for not achieving that this year.”

Fish has now spent two seasons on loan at Hibs from Old Trafford and the 21-year-old was asked what the long-term future holds for him. "I've not really given it much thought, to be honest,” he admitted. “My focus this season was come back here and do the best I can for the club.

"I take it step by step and whatever happens in the summer, I don't know. I've loved every minute of playing for Hibs. I've had some incredible times and these last five games we have to give everything for the shirt. I believe we do every week. Try and get five wins and finish on a high.”



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