JOHN HUGHES has urged his Raith Rovers side to prove him wrong and show the ‘mental mindset’ needed to keep the club in the Championship, adding “I can’t change their diapers”.
Hughes accused his players of being selfish and ‘not caring’ about the Kirkcaldy outfit’s future in an incredible no-nonsense outburst in the aftermath of last Saturday’s 5-0 hammering from St Mirren.
The loss left the Stark’s Park men in second-bottom spot and facing up to the possibility of relegation to League One.
And he remains in no mood to sugar-coat the predicament they find themselves in, claiming the players must take responsibility for saving the club from the disaster of the drop.
A victory over basement boys Ayr United, coupled with a St Mirren defeat away to champions Hibs, would preserve the club’s second-tier status outright.
If the Buddies take anything from Easter Road, though, Rovers will face a playoff – and if they suffer another five-goal thrashing they will go down automatically.
After questioning his players’ character and desire last weekend, the former Hibs and Inverness Caley Thistle boss is confident they can get the win they crave.
But, in a week when his words have been pored over thousands of times after his Raith TV interview went viral, Hughes is adamant it is now all down to his team’s actions on the pitch.
He said: “I’m not going to go back on anything I have said. Just go and win.
“They have an opportunity on Saturday to go and win a football match and make everybody happy.
“If you can’t handle that, if your mentality is not strong enough to be at your best and put in a man-of-the-match performance, if you have any nagging doubt or feel anything negative don’t put the strip on.
“I can’t take them by the hand, I can’t change their diapers.
“They have to stand up, look each other in the eye and trust each other.
“Team-talks don’t matter, it’s up to these guys when they go over the white line to get together to say: ‘Let’s put this right’.
“We’ll soon see.”
Raith will be comforted by a home record that has seen them go five games unbeaten at Stark’s Park since Hughes took over in February.
He added: “I have every trust in them, if we are at it and we play like we can at home, then we’ll go and win the game.
“But we can’t let [the occasion] affect us.
“It’s about character. Our character cannot be in question on Saturday.
“It might be in question in terms of ability and I accept that.
“But our character cannot be in question. Whatever it takes to go and win the match.”