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Football: We could play Saints off the Park and I'd still be sacked.

Byline: HUGH KEEVINS

DONALD PARK is ready to hold Hibs' destiny in one hand - and take his P45 with the other.

The coach who was promoted from running the club's youth team to No.2 to Franck Sauzee is holding the fort after the Frenchman's sacking.

Park is preparing himself for the biggest battle of Hibs' season - the visit of St Johnstone for the clash that could decide which of them drops down to the First Division.

But he realises the sack could be his reward, even if he secures the club's immediate future and saves them for the financial calamity of relegation.

Park said: "I told my wife when I was appointed Franck's No 2 that one day it would end in the sack.

"I have to be philosophical about what happens because nothing can surprise you about football.

"I could be left to handle the pressure of the game against St Johnstone because there isn't time to find a new manager. But I wouldn't compromise my principles and give less than 100 per cent effort because my future was uncertain."

Park isn't among the contenders for the job because he has no ambition to be a manager in the Premier League or anywhere else.

Some coaches take exception to being described as bibs and cones men but Park wears it like a badge of honour.

He said: "Coaching is about having fun while doing your work on the training pitch. Management is about handling men and their egos. I couldn't handle that.

"Some of the foreign players in particular don't know what to make of it when they are told to their face that they haven't performed to the expected standard.

"I have told Rod Petrie, Hibs' managing director, that I hope there is a new man in place before we play St Johnstone.

"But if I have to take the game I'll approach it as I did when Hibs played Rangers on the day Alex McLeish left the club and moved into Ibrox.

"I didn't mention Alex's name once in my pre-match team talk. My job was to concentrate on Hibs and how we organised ourselves. It was good enough to get us a draw.

"I know that Hibs are capable of beating St Johnstone but I have no fear of it being my last game as a member of the club's staff.

Hibs' players aren't due back for training until Monday.

Park will know what to say when he's there on his own to meet them.

He said: "I will tell the team it's about getting three points, just like any other Saturday."

The only difference is that the players know they'll be back at work the following Saturday.

Park doesn't have that guarantee.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 23, 2002
Words:458
Previous Article:Football: I'm having my first football break in 14 years..and can't wait for it to end; Jeff's got for work old days the bug now Brad are over.
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