Top line summary

  • Jumped a taxi to speak to Marcondes face-to-face after finding out he was in Dubai.
  • 'Top professional' who can inspire others and raise standards.
  • Wants Marcondes and Maolida involved against Rangers.
  • Pushing hard to bring in more signings.

Nick Montgomery spoke to the media ahead of Hibs' Premiership clash at home to Rangers on Wednesday night. Here's everything the manager had to say...

Has Emiliano taking free kicks at training already?

"He has taken a few this morning, and he is definitely the specialist on that. It’s something that’s good to have because it is not easy putting corners and free kicks in. Everyone wants to do it but there’s a real art to it, and he is definitely talented in that area.

He doesn't seem the type to be fazed by playing Rangers...

"He’s not fazed by anything. He has had a good career, and now he’s 28 years old and should be in his prime for the next three or four years. For us to get a player of that quality, what is especially good is that he wanted to come. He could’ve gone to a lot of other clubs - he had a lot of options. But it was up to me to convince him with the direction I want this club to go, the fact that he can really help us achieve what we want. But he had to really want to come, because financially the players we have brought in, we can’t compete with their salaries or with other clubs, so the players needed to want to come. They [Marcondes and Myziane Maolida] were both in the situation. After I spoke to them, they were really keen to make it happen, as were their representatives as well. That was an important piece of the puzzle. They looked into the club, and the way we are playing, and what I want to do here, and that is why they ultimately decided to come.

Talking in-person in Dubai must have been a real bonus, did you know he'd be there?

"I didn’t, actually. He is a player who was mentioned a while ago and, of course, I was really keen. But when it comes to players like that, you don’t think there is any real possibility that you will get them because of the competition you’re going to face, and the constraints we are under financially. So, it was really important that we made the most of that meeting, which came by chance. It was an opportunity to go and meet him, he was out there training on his own with some big-name Premier League players. Instead of being on a break, they were out there training, and that speaks volumes to the sort of person he is. It was an opportunity to go and speak to him, and get to know him.

Does sitting down face to face give you an advantage?

"Look, you will probably have to ask him that, but I would say that being able to have that meeting was powerful. When you can look someone in the eye, you can have an honest conversation and you can create a relationship, and I told him we could help him get back playing competitively and he can help us. He is a top quality player and it is about trying to win games of football. He was excited by the project and he took a bit of time to think about it, which I think is important. He did his research on the club and he could see it has a lot of history -  that played a part in him wanting to come. We are really looking forward to getting the best out of him between now and the end of the season.

Who were the others over training with him?

"There were plenty. Jesse Lingard  was one of them. But it shows he was waiting for the right opportunity and he comes in real good shape. I’m looking forward to having him in the squad.

How did you find out he was there in Dubai?

"We had mentioned that he might be a possibility as a loan player but he was on a list of many players from around the country and around the world. With him out of contract at the end of the season, he needed to get out playing games.  So, a contact -  Simon Francis who I played with at Sheffield United - now works at Bournemouth, and let me know that Emiliano was over in Dubai. From there, we went through the right channels and arranged a meeting.

READ MORE: Johnson Hibs exit confirmed as Harbottle leaves on loan

"That was by chance, but we took up the opportunity and got on the front foot. We got a taxi through the crazy traffic in Dubai, sat and had a coffee and talked about life and football. Then we gave him the opportunity to really look into the club and I’m so excited that he chose to come here. He had other options.

Could the fact he is out of contract at the end of this season work in your favour?

"He would need to take a huge drop in salary but you never know. We’ve got to try to impress him but when you speak to him, he is really passionate and intelligent. He is passionate about football , and is involved in charities and organisations that help people after playing. He is a really thoughtful person and it is an opportunity for him to play games and give himself a platform, The biggest thing for me is that he is hungry to get playing. He is not coming here to mess around, he is coming to get training,  get involved with the team, and help Hibs finish as high in the league as we can. He knows it’s a challenge, he knows we have a really young team and he knows the situation we are in right now with a lot of players away or injured. It would have been easy for him to say that it was not the right challenge for him but he really wanted t9 take on that challenge. That’s a real leader as well. For me, to bring him in isn’t just good for Hibs but for the Scottish League because he is a quality player. 

Is he the kind of guy who sends the tone with extra work and his overall professionalism?

"He is. You see the weather today but he, Elie Youan, and myself were out there taking free kicks and doing a bit of shooting. The rain was lashing down and the wind was blowing sideways  - we have lost a bit of equipment this week with the crazy winds - but you can see straight away that he is a top, top professional who does everything. Those sort of players inspire the young players here because you can only tell them what you want but fortunately, we have some right good professionals [to show them] and that helps the young players. The more players you have that are top professionals, the more it is going to benefit the other players here who have the opportunity to play with them.

And Marcondes runs his own free-kick school... 

“I think we can use that here, for sure. He was out there with Elie today taking free-kicks. He’s had his own free-kick coach in his career and you can see the technique he uses, just in the few he’s taken today, so you try to utilise that sort of thing.  I’m sure that he’s the type of player who would be happy to stand outside, even in the lashing rain we had today, with the young boys and take free-kicks. Then, when it comes to the games, he can step up and deliver in those big moments.  We’ve not scored a goal from a free-kick yet, although we’ve had a couple of attempts. To be honest, having Martin Boyle away doesn’t help, because he’s especially good on corners, which is a big part of the game. To have someone else who can deliver a ball with real venom, that’ll help. Because we’ve got some real height. It’s always good to have people who can deliver a dead ball, with set-pieces being such a big part of the game. 

Are you tempted to start one or both of Emiliano and Myziane?

“We’ll see. We have to wait for Myziane’s paperwork. And Marcondes only arrived yesterday, did his medical. There’s always a lot to do when you sign for a club.  So I’m not going to rule both out from starting. But they’ll definitely be involved.  We’ve got a lot of games coming up so they need time to bed in, get used to the intensity we play at, the formation we play, the style we play. They’ve both spent a lot of time watching video, and I think they’ve already got a good understanding of what we want.  You can see even in a couple of training sessions with the boys here that they understand. I’m really looking forward to seeing them play. 

Is this transfer a sign of the tie-in with Bill Foley’s Bournemouth? 

“It’s just a coincidence that he was at Bournemouth and was in the situation he was in. There’s nothing concrete yet on Bill Foley the investment.  He was on a list of players who were coming out of contract and might be available for loan. Him and Myziane looked like they would be out of our reach. I’ll be honest with you about that.  But we were patient. We felt if we could convince them, and if they could convince their clubs and their representatives, everyone would see this was the right move for them.  When you have a valuable player like Myziane, a club like Hertha want him to come on loan somewhere that he can develop. They want us to hopefully put him back in the shop window, to hopefully go back to their club in good form – or with more value for them to move on. 

READ MORE: Hibs goalkeeper Max Boruc seals loan to Championship

“That’s where it’s not easy. A lot of players get thrown about. But they have to want to come north of the Border, if they’re coming from England, for example. A lot of players won’t do that, they just prefer to stay down south. That’s their choice.  As soon as I feel a player doesn’t really want to come, I move on. Because it’s really important that you have players who want to come and play for the club, especially if it’s a short period of four to five months.  That’s where we’ve worked really hard. And we’ll continue to do that in the next ten days.  There could be one or two more. Could be none. And there will be one or two going out. 

What have you made of Rangers under Philippe Clement?

“They’re a little bit more aggressive, a little bit more direct, under the new manager. They’re missing Sima, who has been a very good player for them. They’ve got one player out on international duty, we’ve got four.  They’ve got a lot of other good players, as well. They’re a good team.  We’ve only lost one game at home, against Hearts in the 94th minute, when I felt we deserved something from the game. One mistake and a little bit of quality.   That’s one of those moments I talked about where you need match winners. The two players I’ve brought in could be potential match-winners in those tight game. That’s the plan.”