John Hughes – Scottish Cup winning manager.
It’s scary how quickly football can forget. Yogi led Inverness to 3rd in the top flight of Scottish football, won the Scottish cup and got them into European qualifiers for the first time in their history. Yet at the moment he is out of work and has been for a few years now. That can’t be right in my opinion.
It all started for Hughes when he was appointed manager of Falkirk in 2003 (initially with Owen Coyle as co manager). During his six years in charge, he guided Falkirk to promotion to the SPL and established them in the top flight (a division the club hasn’t been since) and a Scottish Cup Final during his time in charge. He managed future stars Kasper Schmeichell, Tim Krul and Scott Arfield as well as managing players with big reputations such as Jackie McNamara, Neil McCann, Steven Pressley and of course Russell Latapy.
Then in 2009, he left Falkirk for his boyhood club Hibs and set about playing an exciting brand of attacking football that saw the club finish 4th in the SPL and qualify for Europe. However, an itchy trigger finger by Rod Petrie saw him leave the club by mutual consent after sixteen months.
Hughes was appointed manager of Livingston in February 2012, but left in November to take over at English club Hartlepool United before Hughes returned to SPL football when he was appointed manager of Inverness Caledonian Thistle in December 2013.
What he achieved at Inverness was nothing short of remarkable. He led the club to their first major silverware in May 2015 by winning the Scottish Cup (ironically against former club Falkirk), two top six finishes (including a 3rd place finish) and of course who could forget their first foray into European football. A job even more remarkable in my mind when you consider where Inverness are now in the Scottish Championship.
Sure, detractors of Hughes will point to his brief stint at Raith Rovers that resulted in the club being relegated to League One. However, when you consider the club hadn’t won a game since October by the time he arrived in February, he was hardly the disaster that certain elements of the media would have you believe.
What I admire about John is his style of football and his personality. He wants to play free flowing attacking football and loves to share in the joy of the beautiful game every time you hear him speak. That, in addition to his CV of success with Falkirk, Inverness and relative success at Hibs make him someone I think is more than deserving of a place in Scottish football. Clubs like St Johnstone wouldn’t go wrong by appointing John and only time will tell if he gets the return that he wants but in my view his time will come again. We need more managers like John Hughes in Scottish football if we want to watch expansive football and witness the technical development of the next generation.