John Hughes and Inverness CT at odds over ambition

By John BarnesBBC Scotland
John Hughes
John Hughes was named manager of the month three times at Inverness

John Hughes has regularly given the impression his ambition for Inverness Caledonian Thistle is not being matched by the club's board.

This was particularly evident when Hughes spoke of his plans to strengthen his squad.

The manager, who led the club to their first major trophy in last season's Scottish Cup final, was consistent with his comments in the media that the higher they finished in the Premiership, the more cash he would have at his disposal this summer.

But, in recent months, there seemed to be a stand-off when it to came to finances for next season and now Hughes is negotiating his exit from the club.

John Hughes' record at ICT
Played 121 Won 50 Drawn 30 Lost 41 Success rate: 41.32%
Premiership finishes: 5th (2013-14) 3rd (2014-15), 7th (2015-16)
Won Scottish Cup in 2015 - beating Falkirk 2-1 in final
Reached League Cup final in 2014 - lost to Aberdeen on penalties
Manager of year 2014-15 with both PFA Scotland & Scottish Football Writers' Association

Hours after Hughes had spoken of his budget being dictated by their final league placing on 28 April, the board took to the club website to rebuff that assumption.

The statementexternal-link said: "The management team were provided with their initial budget for next season some time ago and following last weekend's excellent result against Kilmarnock we can now be fully focused on our plans for the next campaign and ensure that the signings of both current and new players are made as soon as possible.

"It was a disappointment to us all to miss out on the Premiership's top six. This provides attendant challenges but on a more positive note, next season's budget will remain similar to this season's initial outlay."

Despite that statement Hughes continued to emphasise what he believed to be the position as he battled to finish top of the bottom six.

John Hughes and Kenny Cameron
John Hughes (left) and Kenny Cameron with the Scottish Cup

Ahead of the match with Dundee United on 6 May, Hughes told BBC Scotland's Sportsound programme: "The aim is to go out and finish seventh.

"Hopefully that will guarantee us a wee bit more money in the budget to go out and get one or two of the players who are out on the pitch tonight tied up."

Four days later Hughes was named Premiership manager of the month for April - an award he won on three occasions while in charge of Inverness.

As he received his latest prize Hughes issued a warning to the club they needed to bring in a better quality of player to improve standards and excite supporters.

Then, after winning their final league game of the season against Dundee to secure their seventh-placed finish, the manager said he wanted to keep midfielder Greg Tansey and striker Miles Storey. He described them as "a solid foundation" and said he hoped to add to it in the close season.

Ryan Christie (left) and Graeme Shinnie
John Hughes has lost both Ryan Christie (left) and Graeme Shinnie during his Caley Thistle tenure

Hughes said: "We've set standards last year. Don't tell me that a provincial club like Inverness can't go and win the Scottish Cup again or get third in the Premiership and get Europe - I'll not accept that. We all need to be on board and keep driving it forward."

Within days that plan was wrecked when Storey, who spent the season on loan at Inverness from Swindon scoring 13 goals in the process, decided to join Aberdeen when his contract expires with the English League One club at the end of June.

But losing talented players was not new to Hughes. During his tenure Graeme Shinnie, Billy McKay, Marley Watkins and Ryan Christie have all departed but he managed to acquire replacements and mould them into his style of football.

Should he leave the Caledonian Stadium as expected, Hughes can look back on a League Cup final appearance, being the first Inverness manager to lead them into Europe and two prominent manager of the year awards, as well as that famous Scottish Cup win.

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