JOHN HUGHES yesterday paid tribute to sacked Ross County counterpart Derek Adams for his “massive” contribution to Highland football.
The Inverness Caley Thistle manager – only recently tipped as likeliest Premiership boss to be first to lose his job – expressed sadness at the announcement by his fierce rivals across the Kessock Bridge.
The double dismissal of Adams and his director of football father, George, came with County sitting rock bottom of the top flight, while Hughes’ Inverness side top the table.
Hughes, who has recovered from career sackings of his own at Hibernian and Hartlepool, said: “Being a fellow manager, it’s a sad day. I always got on well with Derek and George.
“His association with Ross County has been about seven years and he’s played a massive part in getting them through the divisions. For any colleague to lose his job is a sad day. I’ve been there myself and it’s not a pleasant experience.
“One thing I will say about Derek and George is, when I was managing down in the north-east of England with Hartlepool, I would go and watch Middlesbrough and Sunderland’s under-21s. Lo-and-behold, they were there taking games in.
“So it shows the commitment and work ethic they put into the job. In all sincerity, I hope it’s not too long before they get back into the game.
“If I was giving them any tips: it does make you a better manager. It makes you stronger because it gives you a chance to sit back and analyse what you’ve done right and wrong.”
Hughes, meanwhile, dismissed as “total speculation” reports of a twin Peterborough move for ICT striker Billy Mckay and defensive colleague Josh Meekings.
He said: “It’s a good thing because the speculation tells us we must be doing something right and playing good football.
“You want that but if anybody is coming in for them, come in with finances that stand you a chance of getting them. With the wee bits of speculation and the figures I’m hearing, it doesn’t match our value of these players.”
Hughes has refused to name trialists who have been striving to impress at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, but revealed one of the pair had now left the club.
He said: “One of them was very young and he acquitted himself very well.
“In fact, he’s up there with the young kids here.
“But it’s not young kids I need – I need first-team players. He was just a wee bit short of that.
“He left us last week but we asked the other one to stay on and he scored a hat-trick against Inverness City.
“He’s acquitted himself very well and right at this moment it’s in the balance. The problem we have is that I still have one or two trialists lined up and I think it’s worth the gamble with losing this one to have a look at one or two next week. That’s what I’m going to do and make my mind up. Hopefully before the window closes we’ll have another one added to the squad.”
Hughes has joked that he might have to get the chairman drunk to persuade him to loosen the notoriously tight purse strings at Inverness.
He added: “I put a name to the chairman and ever since that he’s been hiding from me – and has never mentioned him again.
“I think he’s probably seen his CV and the clubs he’s been at and figures it might cost him.
“Every time I see him he’s hiding from me.
“But I said to him last week it would be nice if he’s still available.
“I just want to bring good players to the club but I’ve never been a chequebook manager.
“I’m a coach. You go in, work with what you’ve got and make them better, both individually and collectively.
“I would never hold the club to ransom because I’ve seen clubs struggle.”