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John Hughes: New Dunfermline boss put under the microscope

Hughes' circuitous CV
Hughes' circuitous CV

Dunfermline have got their man. John Hughes answered the SOS.

Formerly boss of two of their greatest rivals, Raith Rovers and Falkirk, ‘Yogi’ will be charged with salvaging the Pars’ Championship status.

From a glorious Scottish Cup triumph to a relegation heartbreak — and everything in between — Hughes’ managerial career has been a roller-coaster.

But what caught the eye of Dunfermline chiefs, who described him as ‘the unanimous’ choice, following a ‘robust’ recruitment process?

A coaching Bairn

Hughes in his Falkirk days

Hughes’ managerial reputation was forged at Falkirk.

Having initially acted as co-boss with Owen Coyle, he took full charge in the summer of 2003.

What followed was a hugely successful six-year stint which heralded laudable youth development, flowing football and silverware.

Falkirk won a First Division and Challenge Cup double in 2004/05.

Hughes then established the Bairns as a solid Scottish Premier League outfit, even reaching the 2009 Scottish Cup final where they narrowly lost out to Rangers.

Hibs homecoming

Hughes’ exploits at Falkirk earned him a return to Hibs — where he played between 1996 and 2000 — in June 2009.

His only full season in charge saw the Hibees finish fourth in the SPL, securing European qualification.

However, a dreadful start to the 2010/11 campaign saw the capital club dumped out of the Europa League courtesy of a 6-2 aggregate defeat against Maribor.

A run of one win in the following eight matches resulted in Hughes leaving Hibs by mutual consent on October 4.

All smiles: Hughes at Hibs

Fleeting spells

Hughes spent 16 months out of the game before accepting the Livingston job in February 2012, with former teammate and close friend John Collins taking on a role as director of football with the Lions.

Livi would go on to record a fifth-placed finish in the First Division before Hughes left the club for Hartlepool in November.

Hughes’ long-desired crack at English football management would prove a bitter one, with Hartlepool relegated to League Two in 2013 and the Scotsman sacked.

Glory in the Highlands

Hughes returned to Scottish management in December 2013, embarking on an Inverness adventure which would bring unprecedented glories to the Caley Jags.

Soon after this appointment, Hughes led Inverness to their first major final — the League Cup showpiece of March 2014 — but lost out on spot-kicks to Aberdeen.

That would be a temporary disappointment.

Hughes lifted the Scottish Cup in 2015, seeing off Celtic in the semi-final before a dramatic victory over his former club, Falkirk, in the Hampden sun; Inverness’ first major trophy.

Sometimes forgotten amid that achievement, Inverness also finished third in the top-flight.

PFA Scotland and Scottish Football Writers’ manager of the year awards followed for Hughes.

He would undertake just one more season at Inverness, struggling to replicate the heroics of the previous campaign in the face of player departures. He exited in May 2016.

Stark’s Park collapse

The biggest black mark against Hughes’ managerial CV is a woeful three months in Kirkcaldy.

Inheriting a Raith Rovers squad already low on confidence following a poor run under Gary Locke, there was no little response to Hughes’ methods and man management.

Public criticism of his players which sought to spark a reaction, did precisely the opposite.

Contrary to the some perceptions, Rovers were far from a lost cause when Hughes arrived in February 2017.

They were in eighth spot, four points above ninth-placed Ayr United.

But following four wins in 15 matches, Raith finished second from bottom in the Championship and were relegated following a humbling playoff final defeat against Brechin.

Hughes’ departure was confirmed minutes after Raith’s descent to League 1 was confirmed.

Ross County redemption

However, another stint in the Highlands — where he enjoyed such success with Inverness — was again Hughes’ salvation.

He oversaw an excellent upturn in the Stages fortunes after taking charge in December of last year.

They were four points adrift at the foot of the Premiership when he arrived but ultimately finished in tenth spot.

In terms of points, they were closer to fifth-placed St Johnstone than bottom club Hamilton.

Can he work the same magic at East End Park?

EXCLUSIVE: Jim Jefferies in ominous ‘look at Falkirk’ warning as former Dunfermline boss insists Pars fans deserve Premiership football

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