Kevin Cuthbert: Why I had to stand up to John Hughes at Raith Rovers

Former Raith Rovers goalkeeper and first team coach Kevin Cuthbert.
Former Raith Rovers goalkeeper and first team coach Kevin Cuthbert.

Kevin Cuthbert has opened up on the spat with John Hughes which followed the club’s relegation to League One.

The former goalkeeper and first team coach was involved in a dressing room bust-up with the outspoken manager following the play-off defeat to Brechin City in 2017.

Former Raith Rovers manager John Hughes. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Former Raith Rovers manager John Hughes. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

That was despite Cuthbert being 100 per cent in favour of the former Inverness, Falkirk and Hibs gaffer’s appointment.

“I don’t think you could have got anyone who would have been pushing for him more than me,” he said.

“I previously worked with him when I trained at Falkirk for six months because of the travel arrangements I had with Morton.

“I thought it was a fantastic appointment. 
“Bobby (Barr) had his reservations based on a personality clash, but as much as Bobby was a relatively big influence in the dressing room, everybody was hoping for a fresh start.

“Even Bobby and Yogi had a discussion and they were alright at first.”

However, as Rovers continued to slide down the table, it became apparent that Hughes had lost the dressing room.

“I went through three operations at the time so I wasn’t there day-to-day, but I heard murmurings from the dressing room,” Cuthbert said.

“Yogi was probably used to working with a certain type of personality and player, and, for whatever reason, it didn’t mesh, although I think some players didn’t need a lot of encouragement to show their frustration, and be disheartened at the set-up.

“The style Yogi wanted us to play, passing it out from the back, with a goalkeeper in Pavol (Penksa) who was probably the worst distributor I’ve seen in my career, and Jean (M’voto).

“Pavel would roll it out to Jean, who would give it back to Pavel and straight away you’d be putting yourself under pressure.

“He was asking players to do stuff they couldn’t do. If you recognise that and still ask them to do it, who’s at fault?

“Yogi probably made mistakes in terms of formation and set-up, but everybody makes mistakes. It was maybe just a case of making us more difficult to beat, and trying to see it out.

“He criticised the standard of players – with all due respect we got relegated by Brechin – but where we were at that point emotionally in the dressing room, the players were gone. They were demoralised.

“And to be fair, Yogi had gone as well. His frustration had boiled over to the point where he had his public rant, and whether it was right or not, in my eyes that’s the sort of thing that stays in dressing room and you defend your players in front of the cameras.

“It’s not necessarily about slaughtering players – that’s part of football. Players need to be stronger and take criticism. It was the manner and how he did it.

“If you say something to someone’s face, it’s between you and them, or the dressing room, but when you talk about players in that manner outwith the dressing room that becomes an issue.”

Things came to a head after a 5-0 defeat to St Mirren, with some players accusing Hughes of asking the dressing room for a square-go, something the former boss flatly denies.

“It’s embarrassing and a bully-type mentality,” Cuthbert said. “Actions like that, you let yourself down and that’s the way you lose a dressing room.

“Mentally some of the boys weren’t able to accept that, and say “let’s go and show him”. Boys weren’t strong enough for that.

“That’s no criticism of them because it’s not something you expect to hear in any walk of life.”

Cuthbert decided to have it out with Hughes after the penalty shoot-out defeat to Brechin which consigned Raith to League One.

“I felt I had to stand up for the dressing room,” he said.

“As much as we were hurting inside, I didn’t want to let that guy walk out that dressing room and not think he was responsible.

“I had to mention to him his role in the whole debacle.

“Yogi has managed more games than I probably ever will, and I have ultimate respect for what he has achieved in the game, but I just felt he let himself down in his time at Raith.”