JOHN Hughes begins his reign as manager of Hartlepool United tomorrow, insisting – “I’m taking full responsibility for this result”.
The Scot, having only met his players for the first time yesterday morning, rejects the notion of a ‘honeymoon period’ at Victoria Park.
Instead, Hughes is adamant that he will shoulder any criticism or, indeed, praise which follows in the wake of the relegation face-off with Coventry City.
“I’ve got to make an instant assessment of this squad and I will take full responsibility for the result on Saturday,” said the 48-year-old ahead of the visit of the fifth-from-bottom Sky Blues.
“I’m here with no pre-conceived ideas of the players.
“I’m not judging anyone, it’s a clean slate.
“I’m sure there are players who will want an opportunity who maybe felt they weren’t getting one.
“The only way to do that it to train really hard, train the way you play and show to me you want to be part of that culture I’m trying to build.
“I’ve been there in a dressing room – I’ve been a prankster, a joker, a leader, a captain, I’ve been injured, I’ve scored, I’ve been there and done it – we all want it.
“I ask my dressing room to come out of their comfort zone, to do things they’ve not been doing, to give an extra five per cent, to change habits, because if we keep doing what we have been doing then results will stay the same.”
Tomorrow also marks Hughes’ first meeting with the club’s supporters.
And they, he says, have an integral role to play in bringing to an end the side’s 16-match winless run.
“I know over the years fans will say ‘here we go again, a new manager, same old story, a manager who blabs out the same old stuff’,” said Hughes.
“But my message to supporters is ‘come on, come and support the team, really support the team’.
“We all get frustrated when it’s not going our way – don’t let that filter to the pitch.
“Listen, if we were all top top players, we would all be playing for Real Madrid and Barcelona.
“There has to be an understanding – get behind the team, the fans have a massive part to play.
“For me, the supporters are the football club – they are the lifeblood.
“We will take a few knocks, but I promise we will have a team going out there to play football the right way. “We will do it with a pride and, even in defeat, I hope the supporters recognise what we are trying to do.”