Neil Warnock ‘bloody loves’ Edinburgh.

“We come out the hotel and it’s amazing how many young lads know me,” he says of his last visit, chuckling away. “Honestly, all I get is ‘you’ve gotta die to get three points!’ We were up last summer, and I can’t tell you how many selfies. It’s brilliant.”

These days, though, it’s more than just the Johnnie Walker Experience steering his attention towards the capital. Across seven years at Sheffield United, Nick Montgomery was Warnock’s man, a soothing source of stability in a line of work that offers anything but.

When you’ve managed over 1600 games at 16 clubs, with eight promotions into the bargain, at some point it becomes readily apparent that reliability is rare. It will be why Warnock speaks with a real warmth about a player to whom he offered his big break in senior football, and who repaid that faith in spades. Or, more appropriately, sevens – a lot of them.

“He’s a steady man,” says Warnock. “At Sheffield United, there were three youngsters: Phil Jagielka, Michael Tonge, and Nick Montgomery. I gave them all a chance because I loved their attitude.

“They were all slightly different. Monty was always seven out of 10 for me, he was never five, and he was never nine. But he was a solid seven, and always one of the first names on the teamsheet. If there was a danger man in midfield, I’d put Monty on him, and he was like a leech. Honestly, the number of top players who he never let have a kick, you could trust him to do that.

“His energy, he could go box to box for 90 minutes, never wavered. Fitness-wise, he was phenomenal. He wasn’t one to pick the ball up and knock it 50 yards straight to someone’s feet, but he made up for it with his never-say-die attitude. One of those players every manager needs.”

Hibs Observer:

Since becoming Hibs manager in September, Montgomery has projected that sense of steadiness. Perhaps not always with results which have, sometimes cruelly, fluctuated, but in how he conducts himself. There’s no flamboyancy, he speaks plainly and, by all accounts, his straightforwardness with players has been well-received in the dressing room. Still, though, he gives little enough away to leave you wondering what makes Nick Montgomery tick, to ponder what he’s really like behind a quietly determined, slightly steely exterior.

“He’s very demanding of himself,” Warnock explains. “If anything, he punishes himself a little bit too much. Even defeats that were nothing to do with him, he would take it hard.

“Nobody likes to lose, obviously, and he's matured an awful lot now, but he’ll still be thinking straight away about where things went wrong, how he can improve for the next game. He’s that way where he never switches off. He wants to improve all the time, he’s always looking into how he can get another 10 per cent out of things, always very thorough.

“I can’t see him copying some of my antics, mind you. I took them to Scarborough one year for a break, and we had a skimming competition on the water. He was close to losing, and he would’ve been the one who had to go full length into the sea as a forfeit – but he made sure it ended up being Michael Tonge.

READ MORE: How Montgomery is getting more out of his players in a 442 - analysis

“When he first started, he was too intense. But over the years he relaxed a bit, and he can cope with success and failure, because you have to look them both in the face and deal with them. He’s well rounded now. Monty was always the deep thinker. He was always asking questions about management – ‘why did you do that, gaffer?’ He would always be picking your brains.”

It sounds like the hallmark of a player who was always destined for the dugout?

“Yeah, I always felt he’d go into coaching, if he wanted to,” Warnock says. “If you’re going to be successful, you’ve got to want to go into it, you can’t just do it because it’s the obvious next step. You need to want to grab it with both hands.

“He went to Australia and, no disrespect to them, took over a team that was nowhere near the top of the league. I think he knew that all my success was down to man management, getting the best out of the players you’ve got.

“He’s totally honest, and I think that’s helped him in his managerial career. I always told him: ‘Monty, be straight up with the players. If you have to tell them something they don’t want to hear, you just need to do it.’ If you’re straight-up with players, they’ll look after you.”

Warnock sees shades of himself in his former protégé launching his managerial career at Central Coast Mariners, an unfashionable, unfancied outfit meandering along in the A-League. Montgomery himself previously revealed being desperately warned off the job, with prophecies of doom predicting a torched reputation before he even really had one to burn. But, to put it mildly, he made it work, elevating Mariners from also-rans to odds-defying champions in a relative blink of an eye.

Hibs Observer: Nick Montgomery applauds the fans at full-time

“They weren’t a good team but, no disrespect, Monty wasn’t a big name either,” says Warnock. “I started at Gainsborough Trinity, then went to Burton Albion and Scarborough in non-league. I think he knew he had to do something to get on the ladder, and it’s worked for him.

“He got a good grounding, had decent players and they upset all the odds. My first promotion was a little bit like him in Australia, we were 50-1 outsiders! Everybody thought we’d finish bottom, but we ended up winning it.

“That sets you off in your career. I do a lot of the same things now as I did at Scarborough. Alright, football's slightly different, but my principles are the same. I’ll bet you Monty does the exact same as things he did at Sheffield United, what he picked up there, taking it to Australia, and to Hibs.

“He’ll tweak one or two things, but in general, he’ll do a lot of the same things. In Sheffield, we were successful without having a great team, we had a great dressing room, a great group of lads. That’s been the history of my eight promotions, getting a good group.”

It will come as no surprise that Montgomery confided in his old gaffer before returning to the UK, receiving an emphatic recommendation in response.

“He told me he wanted to come over here,” reveals Warnock. “I said that he wouldn’t get any better than Edinburgh - Hibs and Hearts are fabulous clubs. I really want him to do well. I was disappointed they didn’t get to the league cup final.”

I had heard there was some discussion of tickets being set aside…

“Yeah,” Warnock says, ruefully. “I text him to say I’d at be at the final, but they didn’t bloody get there, did they?”

Not to worry, that means he can get along to Easter Road before long, surely?

“If we don’t get up before Christmas, it’ll be New Year, and we’ll get over for a game,” says Warnock, explaining his plans to give himself a break over the festive period before thoughts inevitably turn towards club number 17. Most recently at Huddersfield Town, he will turn 75 in December but , as one of the game's most cherised - and quoted - figures, he's as in-demand as ever.

There’s been ‘three, maybe four offers’ in the post over the last six weeks, plus a phone call from St Johnstone. Given he holidays in Dunoon, enjoys a trip across the Clyde to Greenock, and seemingly can’t get enough of Edinburgh, there’s always been hope that one day he’ll be patrolling a Premiership dugout. Scottish football thrives on characters, and Warnock has earned his place in that bracket.

READ MORE: Nick Montgomery on what Elias Melkersen can bring to Hibs

“I am disappointed I’ve not been up in Scotland, because I love it,” he says. “We've got a place in Dunoon, and I love coming up. I’ve had a few job offers down here these past few weeks, but I don’t want to do anything until after Christmas, maybe February. I love a challenge, you know those ones where someone says ‘it’s an impossible job’ or ‘they’re going to get relegated?’ – I love that, a backs-to-the-wall type thing.

“The kids are doing me a holiday in December when I’m 75, so I thought: ‘I’ll have a relax over Christmas, instead of being in a hotel room somewhere!’ You do get p****d off a bit [with management]. I suppose, not so much when you’re in it, because the adrenaline’s going, but when you’re on the outside looking in, you end up wondering: ‘How many hotels have I been in?’ 40-odd years of being a manager!”

With seven of those helping shape Montgomery as a man, footballer, and future manager, he does hope he’s imprinted a thing or two.

“Seven years, you’re bound to, eh?” Warnock says. “I look back at my managers and take the good and bad from them, different elements from each one.

"Monty will have done that, and I hope he got a lot of good things out of the time he had with me, because we are a little bit different! I’m at 1626 games now, there’s not many buggers going do to that!”