There has rarely been a player at Sheffield United this long that has polarised opinion as much as Nick Montgomery. Since making his debut on October 21st 2000, he has gone onto make 385 appearances for the Blades in all competitions.
He is a player that has been criticised on forums and phone in’s so many times over the years. He always seemed to be the scapegoat or target for boo boys when United lost a game. However he never gets much of a mention when United win, apart from the odd ‘Monty was Monty’ comment. Yet he finished runner up in the player of the year awards to Phil Jagielka when United were promoted to the Premier League, and won it in the 2009-2010 season.
He has never been an attacking player, and that hits home when you consider he has only mustered ten goals in twelve professional seasons. He is not a midfielder who will get you out of your seat with a brilliant 40 yard pass, or a jinking run and finish. What Monty brings to United is pure heart and soul. He is a player that gives 100% every game, never shirking a tackle or hiding from the ball when things aren’t going well. He also adds energy and tenacity to a midfield that has at times over the years lacked any sort of tough tackler.
Over the years Monty has been written off so many times at United, I myself have called time on his career there several times. It seemed at the start of every season a Blades manager will bring in a new midfield player, whether it was a goal scoring midfield play maker or a defensive player in Monty’s mould. I’ve lost count of the number of times I discussed Monty’s future at United at the start of season once these signings were made. He would start off on the bench but eventually would work his way into the team once injuries and suspensions took their toll. Indeed I remember a time when Neil Warnock placed Nick on the transfer list when he signed Lilian Nalis in the summer before promotion to the Premiership. Montgomery managed to see off Nalis and win his place back finishing runner up in the player of the year award.
This season has been a little different for him. He has only made 14 starts and 6 as a sub. He hasn’t been able in the most part to dislodge Michael Doyle or Kevin McDonald who have formed a great partnership in the Blades midfield. Danny Wilson had been the first to praise Montgomery’s attitude and commitment even though he hasn’t forced his way into a team that’s in the 3rd division. He has for the 1st time appeared for another club, going out on loan to Millwall briefly. A calf injury cut that short, only making two appearances as a substitute.
This summer is certainly going to be another interesting one for Monty. United will no doubt be making a number of changes again whether they are in League 1 or if they complete an immediate return to the Championship. Neil Warnock could be interested in bringing Monty in as he reshapes Leeds. Leeds is Montgomery’s home town team, and Warnock has been linked with him several times over the years. Monty might feel that he will get more of a look in there than he has under Wilson at United.
I’m sure whatever the future holds for Monty he will always be remembered as someone who was loyal to a club that gave him his chance in professional football. That has been lost over the last few years in football since the influx of foreign players and the Bosman ruling. I for one hope Monty can force his way back into Wilson’s plans this summer, whichever league that is in.