JOHN Hughes will watch Sunday’s Edinburgh derby with even keener interest than ususal after being unveiled as the new Raith Rovers manager.
Hughes’ first game in charge of the Kirkcaldy outfit is against old club Hibs next weekend as he bids to spark a turnaround in a team that has not won in their last 14 matches.
It will be a huge debut in the Stark’s Park dugout for the 52-year-old, who insists the time was right for him to return to management after eight months out of the game following his departure from Inverness Caley Thistle last summer.
What did John Hughes have to say after being unveiled by Raith Rovers as their new manager?
Posted by Capital City Press on Friday, 10 February 2017
And it means he will go from punter to worker when he takes in Hibs’ eagerly-awaited clash with Hearts at Tynecastle tomorrow.
Hughes, who is expected to name former Falkirk, Hibs and Dundee midfielder Kevin McBride as his assistant, said: “It’s ironic my first game is against Hibs.
“I would have been watching the game this weekend out of interest but now I’ll have to assess Hibs.
“I’ve got a bigger interest in it now, I’ll need to study them and work out the best way to play them.
“I want to get off to a winning start but I’m under no illusions about how difficult it’s going to be because they are the best team in the league.
NO EASY GAMES
“There are no easy games in this league, it’s packed with good players and good managers.”
Hughes paid tribute to predecessors Gary Locke and assistant Darren Jackson, who were sacked on Tuesday night just minutes after a 1-0 defeat to Morton had racked up a sixth successive loss.
Rovers CEO Eric Drysdale insists the ex-Celtic defender shot to the top of their wanted list as soon as it became clear they had a chance of landing the man who led Inverness Caley Thistle to their historic Scottish Cup triumph of 2015.
And Hughes, who has signed an initial contract for the rest of the season, revealed he was won over by the discussions he had with the Stark’s Park board.
Asked about the length of his deal, he added: “It works for both of us right now, we can get to know each other and see what happens.
“There are good people here, they value hard work and commitment, so it’s a perfect fit for me.
“As soon as I met them I knew they talked my language. Guys like them are what makes these clubs go round.
“I haven’t got a magic wand, it’s down to having the right values, getting the right work ethic.
“I’ve never had any airs or graces, I get the boiler suit on and get my hands dirty.
“If it’s from eight o’clock in the morning to whenever, that’s what you have to do. There’s nothing glamorous about it.”
Hughes’ first challenge is to end a winless run extending all the way back to October, a sequence that has seen Rovers plunge from promotion play-off contenders to possible relegation candidates.
It is a far cry from taking Hibs and Inverness into European football and fighting it out at the top end of the Premiership.
But he is adamant it is a battle he is ready for after rediscovering his mojo during his time away from the dugout in recent months.
He explained: ”It was time to get back in.
“I’d been away from home for two and a half years when I was up at Inverness and, although that was a successful time, I have a young family and I had to get back with them.
“But this suits me, it’s the right fit and it’s the right challenge.
“It’s my job to galvanise the team, hit the ground running and get the best out of them. If you look at my record that’s what I’m good at, getting the best out of players.
“I love a challenge, that’s why I’m here and I’m hoping for a massive response.”