Why Montgomery is attractive option for Hibs

Nick Montgomery took his first senior coaching job to little fanfare when Central Coast Mariners promoted from within and handed him the reins.

Two years on, his impact has rippled far and wide and the 41-year-old is the frontrunner to be named Hibs' new manager.

Mariners' A-League grand final success in June - when the underdogs annihilated highly-fancied Melbourne City 6-1 - was the zenith of Montgomery's tenure and ensures he will bow out on a high should he reach agreement with the Easter Road club.

Montgomery hailed that title triumph as a "David and Goliath story and the equivalent of Luton Town defeating Manchester City".

The Leeds-born Englishman, a former Scotland Under-21 cap, headed Down Under in 2012 to see out his player career after a dozen years' service as a sturdy defensive midfielder with Sheffield United.

Montgomery cut his coaching teeth in the Mariners academy and completed his pro licence qualification during the Covid-19 lockdown.

On becoming first-team manager he steered the club, who have one of the smallest budgets in the A-League, to fifth place in his debut campaign then second the following season, culminating in their incredible win over City.

The hero of that victory was former Hibs striker Jason Cummings, who scored a hat-trick to reach 21 goals for the season. Cummings had looked a busted flush when he left Dundee to join Mariners, but Montgomery's revitalisation of the striker hints at his man-management prowess.

Aberdeen's James McGarry, Hearts' Kye Rowles and Newcastle United's Garang Kuol all thrived under Montgomery at the Mariners to earn moves to the UK.

Montgomery is an an attack-minded coach and mainly deployed a 4-4-2 formation with Mariners, who averaged 2.29 goals per game.

Hibs' array of attacking talent would give him ample opportunity to mould an exciting team, although he would have to succeed where Lee Johnson failed by providing defensive solidity.

With Celtic having struck gold when appointing Ange Postecoglou in 2021, Hibs will hope another A-League alumni can take the Premiership by storm if Montgomery is chosen as Johnson's successor.