JOHN Hughes will today set about creating a “siege mentality” when he meets his Hartlepool United players for the first time.
The 48-year-old Pools boss was at the Maiden Castle training ground this morning ahead of his introduction to the morale-sapped squad he must now attempt to galvanise.
Hughes will seek to impose what is a forceful personality on a group who find themselves rock bottom of League One and without a win in 16 matches.
The new man is well aware of the perilous position he inherits, insisting that the challenge enticed him to Victoria Park.
Hughes is also conscious of what he perceives to be mocking undertones from those outside of the club, and there is one anecdote in particular he will use as motivation with his men.
“I was talking to one of my football guys up in Scotland and he said, ‘I was looking for Hartlepool in the newspaper but they’re that low down they fell off the page!’,” said the man who this week bid farewell to Livingston before taking up his first post south of the border.
“He had a chuckle and I said, ‘oh, very good’.
“But I’m going to use that in the dressing room.
“I want them to know that’s what people are saying about us.
“Let’s create a siege mentality – ‘is that what people are saying is it? OK then, we’ll see’.
“Let them laugh, good, because the ones that laugh last, laugh loudest.”
He went on: “I’m talking a lot, but talk is cheap.
“I’ve got to get down to it with the players now.
“They’re working with a guy who has been there, exactly like they are now.
“I’ve done it all – I’m there for them.
“I can’t whip them, they have to want to do it.
“I want to drive this club forward by the scruff of the neck, so my message to them is ‘don’t get left behind’.
“Trust me, I will leave players behind if they don’t want to be part of where I want to go.”
Hughes will have to succeed where both Neale Cooper and Micky Barron have failed this season, assembling and instructing a team from the current number which is capable of winning football matches.
The enormity of the task, however, is met with enthusiasm by the Scot.
“The challenge here excites me – in no way did the situation put me off coming,” he sounded.
“The only way is up and we’re scrapping for our lives.
“I’m in that with them and I want them to know they all have a clean slate.
“I didn’t want to come in here with pre-conceived ideas.
“I will engage with the players.
“There’ll be one or two who don’t want to go with me and one or two who want to sit in their comfort zone, but if that happens we’ll keep getting the same results.
“I want to get a winning culture here.
“We can do that by creating the siege mentality – we’re all in this together as a football club and community.
“We’ve got plenty of time to get out of this and that is what we’re going to do.”