Nick Montgomery on Hibs shortlist after Mariners compo, interest ends in Marek Papszun and criteria revealed for next manager
The Central Coast Mariners boss remains one of the favourites to replace Lee Johnson, who was sacked after his side failed to win any of their opening three Premiership matches, but reports from down under suggesting that the deal has already been done appear premature. The Leith club have agreed compensation with the A-League club, freeing them up to chat with the former Sheffield United midfielder, but he is part of a shortlist.
That list has been cut further following early interviews after three-time Polish manager of the year Marek Papszun was dropped. The man who guided Rakow Czestochwa to their first ever major trophy in 2020/21 and has since backed that up with another Polish Cup win, two Polish Super Cup trophies and the Ekstraklasa title last term, ticked many of the Leith club’s boxes but it seems he has already been discounted as more compatible options have risen to the top in a competitive interview process.
Led by director of football Brian McDermott, aided by co-owner and executive director Ian Gordon and chief executive Ben Kensell, the net has been cast far and wide and the search has veered away from the obvious domestic options as they chase the most important factor on the list of criteria – a pedigree of success. It is understood that every manager on the shortlist brings a winning mentality, which the board hopes can be transferred to the squad as they build a winning culture, targeting regular semi-final places in the two domestic cups and top three finishes in the league. Allied to an attractive brand of football demanded by the fans, and suited to the type of players he will inherit, that record of delivering trophies is said to be a non-negotiable requirement.
While Montgomery fits the bill, overseeing his New South Wales club’s A-League triumph last term – their first in a decade – the other contenders are also said to meet those standards. Determined to go for a proven track record rather than gamble on promising potential, while Montgomery is a former Scotland U-21 player, the club have not made on-the-job knowledge of the Scottish game a deal breaker. Seen as a bonus, it is not a necessity. It is understood that whoever comes in will be expected to get the most out of the current squad, though. Bringing in a fourth manager in four years, the club are not keen on a major overhaul of playing personnel. Confident that a lot of good work has been carried out in the summer transfer market, they do not want to have to rip it up and start again.
Having picked up their first league win of the season up at Pittodrie on Sunday, the priority is building on that, with the newcomer expected to hit the ground running after the international break, when Hibs play Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Saturday, September 16. But first they have to get the right man installed. In a couple of days, once the last of the interviews have been carried out, it should be confirmed who that will be.