Former Hibs chairman Malcolm McPherson has revealed he’s still haunted by the day he sacked Franck Sauzee even although it is almost 11 years since the French ace was axed as Easter Road manager.
The appointment of Sauzee as successor to Alex McLeish, the man who had brought him to Edinburgh, was almost universally approved, the ex-Marseille midfielder having helped Hibs emerge from the First Division to take third place in the SPL, a Scottish Cup final and back into European football.
But, as manager, Sauzee struggled, winning just one of his 15 matches – a Scottish Cup replay against Stranraer – and, with the memories of how Jim Duffy’s stay of execution had led to relegation just four years earlier, the Hibs board decided he had to go.
Today, in a book, complete with a foreword from McLeish, charting the Frenchman’s days in Edinburgh – “There’s Only One Sauzee” by Ted Brack – McPherson admits telling the fans’ idol he was to be sacked remained the most difficult thing he’s ever done in his life.
After a board meeting, McPherson and Rod Petrie visited Sauzee in his New Town apartment to break the news, the ex-chairman recalling: “Franck was his usual courteous self. He accepted our news with great dignity and total equanimity. If I am being honest, I think that he appeared relieved that we had taken the decision. It was as if a weight had been removed from his shoulders.”
Sauzee’s dismissal was announced the following day, the manager insisting he attend the Press conference at which he poured out his heart, insisting: “I have been wronged and I am hurt,” before declaring: “That’s life. That’s football.”
Whether or not the decision of the board of the day was right to sack Sauzee at than juncture remains a subject for heated debate to this day.
Bobby Williamson was soon appointed as manager although McPherson continued to find himself in the firing line as he and his fellow directors were accused by some of being “spineless.”
McPherson also had to contend with a huge mailbag with around 1400 messages landing on his desk, few of which, he recalls, began with a cordial “Dear Malcolm.”
n “There’s Only One Sauzee: When Le God Graced Easter Road by Ted Brack will be published by Black and White Publishing on October 13, priced £17.99 in hardback.