John Hughes insists Dunfermline’s dismal start to the season has made them a ‘laughing stock’ — as he vowed to shake off their ‘soft touch’ status.
Hughes, 57, was named Pars boss on Friday morning, succeeding Peter Grant on a contract until the summer of 2023.
The former Falkirk, Raith Rovers and Hibernian manager inherits the only side in the SPFL without a league win.
The Fifers are five points adrift of guaranteed Championship safety.
And Hughes pulled no punches regarding the Pars travails this term, urging his new charges to draw on the taunts of their rivals to create a ‘siege mentality’.
“We are at the bottom of the league and the expectations were that we would be challenging at the top,” said Hughes.
“Now that were are at the bottom, I hope all the players know that everyone is laughing at them in Scottish football.
“We’re a laughing stock of Scottish football — ‘look, there’s Dunfermline beat again’.
“We need to change that. That’s enough for me, when people are laughing, to say ‘is that right? We’ll see about that’.
“That’s a siege mentality and it only comes when everyone is 100 per cent committed to everything we do.”
As Hughes seeks to organise and energise, his first task is to rectify a soft centre.
Only Hamilton (25) have conceded more league goals than Dunfermline’s 23 and Hughes is ready to plug the porous Pars.
“I’m honest enough to say that, after doing my due diligence — speaking to players, managers and coaches — they [Dunfermline] are a bit of a soft touch,” said Hughes.
“They give away too many goals; too easy.
“The first thing we need to do is stop that and have a real pride in keeping a clean sheet.
“Am I talking about defence? No. Clean sheets start from the front and, if we can do that, then we aren’t getting beat.”
— SPFL (@spfl) October 27, 2021
Hughes arrives at East End Park fresh from achieving a Premiership great escape with Ross County last term.
The former Celtic defender also boasts a Scottish Cup triumph from Inverness in 2015.
However, in an interview with Dunfermline’s official website, Hughes addressed the major black mark on his CV — relegation to League 1 with Raith Rovers in 2017.
“I went in there and they hadn’t won a game since October and the top goalscorer had scored four goals,” added Hughes. “There were massive problems.
“That was probably one of my lowest points in football. I’ve never hid from that.
“I’m delighted they are back in the Championship and they have a right good manager in John McGlynn.
“But I’d like to think, long-term, we can catch them, overtake them and they’ll be looking up at us.”
Hughes added: “This is a sleeping giant. Without getting carried away, we all want to be back in the top-flight. That has to be the long-term goal.”