Montgomery battling to restore belief that he is right man for Hibs

The Easter Road club released a statement last week revealing they had held talks with the under-fire manager 'to understand what has gone wrong'.

Nick Montgomery admitted he is battling to restore belief that he is the man to lead Hibernian forward as he spoke for the first time since the board publicly branded his failure to lead the team into the top six of the Premiership as “simply unacceptable”.

The Easter Road club released a statement last week revealing they had held talks with the under-fire manager “to understand what has gone wrong during the current campaign and mutually agreed that results this season have been disappointing.”

Montgomery’s appointment as Lee Johnson’s successor last September was widely welcomed among fans but after a promising start to his reign, a run of just three wins in the last 16 cinch Premiership matches saw the Hibees consigned to the bottom six.

The former Sheffield United player remains adamant he can ride through the current turbulence to win over his detractors and save his job.

“I fully believe in what I’m doing,” said the Englishman. “A lot of the fans and people at the club when I came in believed.

“Results sometimes bring doubt, and that’s normal. Internally and collectively I need to bring that belief back because there have been a lot of challenges this season, a lot of things going on, a lot of talk around investment and changes at the club, a lot of players contracted to the club that have not contributed anything this season to Hibs, and some who may never contribute.

“We have to do a lot of work in finding new homes for some of those players. Recruitment moving forward has to be about quality over quantity. We need to be sure we have a proper summer window where we bring in some quality players who can really impact the club moving forward.”

Reflecting on the backlash to his failure to get Hibs into the top six after taking over at a time when they were 10th in the league, the 42-year-old Montgomery said: “Look, it’s a big club with big expectations. I understood the pressure when I came here. I had played under pressure and you are under pressure as a manager.

“But I’ve never wavered in my belief over where I can take this team. The stats, the metrics, everything around the season, there are a lot of positives. Ultimately, people will always reflect on the negative – and that was us missing the top six.

“I understand the fans’ frustration. I love the fans here, love their passion. We all want to win every game, so we’re on the same page.

“I apologise to the fans and the players apologise for not making the top six, but we now have to move forward.”

Hibs’ board also said there would be “a full review of the club’s football structure”.

Asked if the timing and the strongly-worded nature of the statement had cranked up the pressure on him going into the last five games of the season, Montgomery said: “Not really. You can look at a statement and read it in different ways.

“I think it was emotional from the club, everyone was disappointed, and they wanted to apologise to the fans because we, as a club, didn’t meet their expectation and get into the top six.

“But it’s easy for people to criticise when they don’t know exactly what is going on internally, don’t know the full picture. You have to accept that.

“But there are a lot of positives moving forward. It’s just about sticking with the belief and having the patience.

“I’ve got no doubt that I’m the man to lead this club forward. I’m really excited for the future, even while I’m hurting and disappointed now.”

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