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Knights to see out contract at Essendon

By John Salvado 19/08/2010 05:24:21 PM Comments (0)

He might be looking increasingly isolated in the top job, but Essendon coach Matthew Knights insists he has full faith in the AFL club's powerbrokers honouring his contract.

Club legend James Hird fanned the flames earlier this week, admitting publicly for the first time that he wanted to coach the Bombers at some stage.

In some quarters of a club that sees success as a birthright, that was seen as opening the door for Hird to come on board as soon as next year - either as senior coach or as part of a package with a more experienced sidekick like Mark Williams.

CEO Ian Robson and president David Evans - a close friend of Hird - have stuck with their line that there will be a wide-ranging club review at the end of the season and that no-one's position is guaranteed.

But Knights said on Thursday he remained supremely confident that the club would honour his contract, which was extended until the end of 2012 midway through last year.

"I've just got an unbelievable belief in the integrity of David Evans and Ian Robson and the board of Essendon and the faith that they've shown in me, the way they've indicated even in the last month or so how they want to stay the course and see this thing through," said Knights.

"That's the sign of a great football club that holds firm in times of challenge and darkness and when the team is not playing well.

"It was only halfway through the season when we were 5-5 and (Paddy) Ryder and (David) Hille were going great in the ruck together and the team was playing great footy, when hope in the future and excitement was everywhere.

"... sure we've had a period since then when we haven't played good footy but they've shown they can do it, they've just got to do it on a more consistent basis."

After slipping to 13th and out of finals contention, a good place for the players to show that improvement would be on Sunday against Brisbane and in the final-round clash against the Western Bulldogs.

"As far as I can say I'm going to be here for the next two years and coaching Essendon," said Knights.

"I've got a real passion for the players of the football club, I really believe in the list and the talent and we've got to mould this group, have patience and bring this group through together.

"There's no other way to do it in the AFL environment, than to have patience and when they mature with games and experience they'll come though."

Since retiring three years ago, Hird has remained mostly ambiguous about any coaching aspirations he might hold, preferring to focus on his management role at sports marketing company Gemba and his media work.

The goalposts moved on Wednesday when the 2000 premiership captain said he held an ambition "deep in his heart" to return one day to Windy Hill as coach.

Knights insisted he had no problem with Hird's comments.

"James Hird is a legend of the football club and I've always had a good rapport with James," said Knights.

"I don't know James' intentions in regards to life or coaching, that's James' business as far as I am concerned.

"What I can focus on is the team and the players and be totally committed to those guys."

Knights took over the Essendon job in difficult circumstances three seasons ago, following the record 27-year reign of four-time premiership mentor Kevin Sheedy.

At the time, many supporters felt the job should have gone to someone with an Essendon pedigree, such as Damien Hardwick or Mark Harvey.

The Bombers' best finish under Knights is eighth in 2009.

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