David Hopkin will discuss his future with Livingston’s board this week after taking them into the Premiership – a success he described as the biggest of his career.
Keaghan Jacobs’ goal won yesterday’s play-off final second leg against Partick Thistle 1-0 to take the West Lothian club into the top flight on a 3-1 aggregate.
Hopkin, who scored a winning goal for Crystal Palace in the English play-off during his career, said nothing tops taking Livingston up after winning League One only 12 months ago.
“Of course this eclipses everything. As a player, you can do something to make a game better. I sat and watched the second half because I know I can trust my players,” he said.
“It’s eclipsed everything I did. I’ve only been in charge for two years now and I’ve had two promotions. I think this is better than winning the league because we’ve done it the hard way.
“It was the most satisfying performance of the season. I asked Neil Alexander before the game to make sure he was a hero in the game, and he was. He saved a fantastic penalty [from Conor Sammon].
Hopkin is out of contract but will now hold critical talks on a new deal. “My future always gets tied up in the summer,” said the former Scotland midfielder. “There might be speculation and people are trying to get me to say stuff, but there’s nothing on the table.
“I’ve spoken to the board and we’ll chat again, probably on Tuesday now. I’ve always been open with the board. I’ve said always if anything comes along they’ve always been very good with me and both parties are honest enough.
“We’ll see where the talks take us. Interest is going to come when you get promoted, at least you’re doing your job right and are not being pushed out the door.
“My aim was to get back to the Championship [from League One]. We could’ve gone part-time and it would’ve been easy to walk out but I had great belief in the players. I knew we could kick on.
“Now we’ve taken the Championship and got to the Premiership in the hardest way. I never thought we’d be here but we all worked extremely hard for it.”
Alan Archibald, the Partick Thistle manager, admitted his club face budget cuts in the wake of relegation. “I’m absolutely gutted for everybody involved. It’s really hard to take. I was involved with relegation as a kid when I was only 18 and it wasn’t nice. To relive it as the manager, I’m so disappointed,” he said.
“We haven’t had a good season. The play-offs give you a second chance but if you can’t score at home, you don’t deserve to be in the Premiership. Full congratulations to Livingston.”
There are now questions over Archibald’s future at Firhill. “I haven’t even processed that. It’s still very raw,” he explained. “The most important thing is the football club moving forward. There will be changes and cuts all over. It’s important we have the best chance to come back up. There will be a massive turnover of players.
“I feel really responsible. I’ve been with the club for 20 years and I know how hard it is for the fans. We are all hurting. When I took the job it was a gamble because I worried about ruining my relationship with them because of something like this.”