New boss Hughes aiming to raise the bar at Raith

John Hughes points the way in one of his first training sessions as Raith manager. Credit- Fife Photo Agency
John Hughes points the way in one of his first training sessions as Raith manager. Credit- Fife Photo Agency

New Raith Rovers boss John Hughes has urged his players not to get left behind as he aims to raise standards at Stark’s Park after taking charge until the end of the season.

He was named as Gary Locke’s successor on Friday, and he has been quick to put his stamp on the club with double training sessions in his first week on the job.

And ahead of his first match in charge against Hibs at Stark’s Park on Saturday, the 52-year-old has demanded players lift their game as they bid to end a run of six league defeats on the trot.

“It’s my job to raise the bar,” Hughes told the Press. “Players maybe think that by playing for Raith Rovers in the Championship they only need to reach a certain level.

“Win a game, lose a game, draw a game. That’ll not do me.

“I’m not bothered if we’re playing for a so-called provincial Championship club - it’s my job to raise the bar and only way we can do it is hard work, setting standards, and dragging them all through it.

“If some of them get left behind, so be it. I’m only doing it for the best of the club, for my standards, and for what I want. The ones that want to come with me, will come with me.

“I’m not putting up with the notion that because they play for Raith Rovers, there’s only a certain standard required. If you play for Celtic or Rangers, it’s win every week. What’s stopping us doing that?

“It doesn’t guarantee we’re going to win football matches, but we’ll put the demands on them. Not by shouting and bawling, but by stimulating and educating them - and giving them a chance.

“I’m sure there’s one or two who haven’t had a chance that might get a chance. Go and take it.”

Hughes has been encouraged by the initial response he has had from the players to his new regime and he is hopeful he has managed to instil some much-needed confidence.

“I’ve had a great response from them,” he said. “They are hungry – maybe too hungry – so we may need to pull the reins on them.

“I’ve enjoyed getting to know them, and it’s a fantastic training facility. I couldn’t have asked for any better than that.

“Nothing will happen overnight and there’s no magic wand – 100 per cent they are lacking in confidence, you can see that, but it’s our job to get them working hard, and hopefully get that first win.

“If they are enjoying it and smiling, it won’t be far away. And once you get one, that momentum comes.

“Hopefully it will be Saturday. It might not, but you can take a lot of confidence out of a performance as well so, first and foremost, we’ll be looking to put a right good performance on.”

Hughes could not have asked for a tougher start but he hopes that an opening match against the league leaders can be a good benchmark for his squad.

“I watched Hibs against Hearts and they were very good,” he said. “They’ve got plenty at their disposal.

“It will be a real acid test for us but as long as we give it a go – win, lose or draw – I’ll get to see the benchmark for what needs done.

“I’d love more time to work with them, but there will no stone unturned in the preparation. Every one of them will go out and know what’s expected of them. There will be clarity in everything that we do.

“But if a Hibs player takes one of them on and puts one in the top corner, there’s nothing you can do about that.

“I hope the fans see something that gives them some encouragement and we’ll keep trying to get better as the days and weeks go on.”

Hughes is still working on bringing a number two to the club and he also revealed that he is hoping to tempt ex-Celtic assisant boss, and close friend, John Collins, into a supporting role of some kind.

The new gaffer’s first team selection will be hampered by suspensions to both Kevin McHattie and Iain Davidson, while goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert is injured.