Ex-Falkirk and ICT boss Hughes wants Scotland job interview
Former Falkirk and Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager John Hughes has gone public to tell the Scottish FA he deserves an interview to be the new national team boss.
The 53-year-old has cited taking three clubs into European competition – two for the first time in their history – and two manager of the year awards.
And he famously led Inverness Caledonian Thistle to victory in the 2015 Scottish Cup final.
“The CV speaks for itself,” he said.
“All I’m asking is for a chance to interview.”
The SFA is still seeking a replacement for Gordon Strachan, who left the job in October, after Michael O’Neill rejected their approach and decided to remain with Northern Ireland in January.
Former Everton and Rangers manager Walter Smith has since rejected overtures and another former Scotland manager, Alex McLeish, has become the bookmakers’ favourite.
But Hughes, who has been out of work since Raith Rovers were relegated from the Scottish Championship at the end of last season, believes Scotland need a manager who has a record of overachieving with the resources at his disposal.
“I’ve done two First Division promotions, manager of the year twice, three cup finals, one Scottish Cup, three teams into Europe, two for the first time in their history with Inverness and Falkirk, and I’ve done it all never working with a cheque book,” he told BBC Scotland.
“I think I’ve spent £240,000 and I’ve got 15 years of experience getting the best out of what I’m working with and getting the gold dust out of them.”
Hughes, who was brought in by Rovers last February in a late bid to avoid the drop, became a social media hit for a rant against his players after a 5-0 thrashing by St Mirren in April.
“The thing at Raith Rovers, that was passion,” he said. “That was a call to arms. That was a rallying cry.
“After that interview, we played Ayr United and we got our goalkeeper sent off in the first two minutes and, do you know, we beat them 1-0, so something came out of it.
“You tell me a manager who does not have a blot on his copybook.”
Hughes, who was recently beaten to the Dundee United job by Csaba Laszlo and has worked for the SFA on coaching courses, recognises that, in football, employers tend to approach the people they want rather than choose from applicants.
“In terms of self publicising yourself, it’s a dangerous game, but I need to do it because I’ve got a passion to go and manage my country,” he said.
“I do believe a lot of people don’t know my achievements.”
Hughes, who was a central defender with Berwick Rangers, Swansea City, Falkirk, Celtic, Hibernian and Ayr United, started his managerial career with Falkirk.
“[I won] two First Division titles, one of them with Owen Coyle and eventually getting into the SPL and [kept] Falkirk in the SPL for five seasons,” he recalled.
“[I took] them to a Scottish Cup final and into Europe for the first time in their history and [built] an academy that was so successful in terms of players moving on and working with young players and getting the best out of players.
“After that, I moved on to Hibs. It was a dream of mine to go and manage the team I supported as boy and took them to fourth and into Europe.”
After a short spell with Livingston, Hughes joined Hartlepool United, who were in the midst of a 20-game run without a win, but despite an improvement in results, he failed to steer them clear of relegation from League One and was sacked at the end of his first season.
“I went up to Inverness, took them to the League Cup final – got beat from Aberdeen on penalties – took them to a Scottish Cup final, won it and another team I took into Europe, third in the league,” he said.
“I left Falkirk and they’ve never been in the SPL since and then I left Inverness and they got relegated.”
Hughes believes he is the “perfect fit” to be Strachan’s successor.
“If you look at Scotland, I don’t know where we are in the European standings, but we’re not the best team in Europe, we’re not the best team in the world, and it needs a manager who is going to go in there and create a real club environment, wear your heart on your sleeve, all for one and one for all, let’s get united,” he added.
“That’s my forte and I’ve been training for this job for the last 15 years, why not John Hughes?”