Park hopes inside info can defeat Inverness

DONALD PARK today revealed he hopes his inside knowledge of Inverness Caledonian Thistle can help new Hibs boss Mixu Paatelainen and the Easter Road outfit kick off their Scottish Cup campaign with a win tomorrow.

Paatelainen asked Park to become his assistant on being appointed successor to John Collins and the man who was twice a youth coach at Easter Road jumped at the chance to return.

And, having quit as Craig Brewster's right-hand man at Inverness only a few weeks ago, Park, who had been working with John McGlynn at Raith Rovers, is now plotting his former club's downfall.

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Park, of course, had helped Caley become something of a bogey team for Hibs during two spells in the Highland capital, and he knows the threat they possess, insisting they are a far better team than many give them credit for.

He could, of course, point to Brewster and Caley's Romanian striker Marius Niculae picking up the latest Clydesdale Bank Premier League Manager and Player of the Month awards respectively, as proof, although Paatelainen's new charges have their own bitter experiences to recount.

Park said: "It will be a hard game, Caley are going really well, they are steady at the back and Niculae is scoring goals. Everything is coming together for them, let's not forget they have some very good players.

"But I'll be trying my best to give our players as much information as I can. Caley have a wonderful spirit, we have to compete with that first and foremost."

Park accepted tomorrow's match has taken on huge importance for Hibs given their slide down the SPL table on the back on just one win in 12 matches, but like everyone he admitted he's at a loss to offer an explanation. He said: "I do not know why there's been this slump.

"If John Collins knew, it would have been fixed. But sometimes little things have a big effect, players stop doing the things that gave them success, perhaps they rest on their laurels."

Having worked under Alex Miller, been discarded by Jim Duffy, brought back by Alex McLeish and then released again by Bobby Williamson, Park may have been forgiven had he rebuffed Paatelainen's approach to return to Hibs yet again. But he revealed there was no decision to make.

He said: "To say I am delighted is an under-statement, it's come full circle for me.

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"I got a phone call out of the blue from Mixu to ask if I'd be willing to come as his assistant, it wasn't a difficult question to answer. There was nothing to talk about."

Park revealed he decided to quit Caley after finding the travelling and living apart from his wife "demoralising".

He said: "I'd spent two years travelling up to Inverness, I was staying in a house up there and my wife was living in our house down here. It became a bit demoralising and it affected my job at Caley."

Park, of course, got to know Paatelainen at first hand when the big Finn was a player with Hibs but he admitted that at that time he never thought he'd see the striker return as manager.

And he believes the grounding Paatelainen enjoyed in the Third Division with Cowdenbeath will prove invaluable as he begins what he described as "a massive job" at Hibs. Once manager of Meadowbank Thistle and Arbroath, Park said: "I've always thought managers should go and work at the lower levels, I think the best managers have served that apprenticeship.

"The fact Mixu did so makes a big statement for me. It shows a humility. He knows what players are thinking, how to motivate them. He knows what he wants, he's very specific with players about their roles and there's a lot of character about him."

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