NICK Montgomery, the former Sheffield United midfielder, has revealed how emigrating to Australia has broadened his personal and professional horizons.
Montgomery, who joined Central Coast Mariners in August following a 12-year association with Bramall Lane, told The Star that the A-League’s tactical template, which can be traced back to Guus Hiddink’s spell in charge of the Socceroos, means standards Down Under are at an all-time high.
“The style is moulded on the Dutch so it’s great to watch as teams try to keep possession more,” Montgomery said.
“The club is really well run and the manager, Graham Arnold, worked under Hiddink for years and uses most of his ethics, tactics and training methods, which has really opened my eyes up.
“I have already learnt a lot.
“It’s been a really good learning curve and, even at my tender age I still feel I have a lot to learn and take on board.”
Arnold, Montgomery’s mentor at Bluetongue Stadium, was Hiddink’s assistant before enjoying a brief spell at the helm himself.
Hiddink, the former PSV Eindhoven and Russia chief, might have departed Australia following the 2006 World Cup but, on the country’s Eastern Coast, his ideas have helped Mariners seize first place in the domestic table after 10 rounds of competition.
They entertain Melbourne Heart, who are seventh, on Friday evening before travelling to Wellington Phoenix just before Christmas.
The match, which takes place at Westpac Stadium later this month, could pit Montgomery against another United old boy - Paul Ifill - who has spent the past three years in New Zealand.
Arguably Mariners’ best result of the campaign so far came when they beat Sydney FC, who recently recruited Alessandro Del Piero, 7-2 last month. Ian Crook resigned as the visitors’ coach soon after but not before labelling Mariners “the best team in the league”.
“I am loving playing for the Mariners and it’s a fantastic club,” Montgomery said.
“It’s similar to the Blades in fact because there’s a great atmosphere around the place and a close-knit atmosphere behind the scenes.
“I scored my first league goal over here a while back.
“It was against Adelaide and it turned out to be the winner so that was a good night.”
Montgomery, aged 31, is scheduled to spend at least the next two and half seasons with Mariners.
“I have made some great friends here already and will never forget how much they helped me and my family settle as it was a big move with two small children,” he added.
“We have settled in great on the Central Coast.
“I can throw a stone from our apartment on to the beach. It’s such a beautiful beach and there are loads of cafes and restaurants next to it.
“The kids love it and we spend a lot of our spare time there and paddling in the rock pools.
“It really is a truly amazing place to live because the lifestyle is so relaxed and it’s a great place to bring up children. I have to pinch myself everyday to believe that I actually live here.”