JOHN HUGHES is calling for patience among disgruntled Inverness Caledonian Thistle supporters as he strives to implement his football philosophy.
In the thick of a highly-demanding fixture list, the manager says it has been hard to find the breathing space between matches to put across his ideas.
Hughes, though, insists there is no turning back on his vision of instilling a free-flowing, high-tempo passing game in the team he took charge of last November.
Frustration among a section of fans was all too audible on Tuesday night as Motherwell won 2-1. Hughes, who admits results must improve, has seen his men secure just one win in their last nine matches.
Anxiety and impatience in the stands certainly did not appear to help Inverness in midweek, but Hughes heads to Dingwall this weekend determined to turn the corner.
"Up here at Inverness, I've had some big, big games and we've played something like 14 times in the last eight weeks. Between games, we're just recovering. We haven't had time to go and coach and train and do all the shadow work. "We need time to take it from the tactics board on to the training pitch and we've not had that.
"There's a lot of work to be done, but the way they have bought into some of the stuff so far really pleases me. The message is loud and clear in the dressing room: this is the way we're going to go. We're just asking the fans to be a little bit more patient and buy into what we're trying to do.
"If you see us when it works - Ross County last time, Aberdeen away, Hearts here - it's great to watch. In Scottish football, we all moan about why we're not playing a more attractive style, but I'm a man who preaches it. If we are winning 1-0 and passing the ball about, the cries of 'Ole! Ole!' go up. But if you are 1-0 down and still trying to pass the ball supporters shout boot it forward.
"I'm honest enough to admit we should be passing the ball quicker at times but I'm 100% convinced the players are loving what we're trying to do here."
"If you don't have a method, a philosophy and an identity, football becomes a team of individuals, which is anarchy. John Hughes, April 3, 2014!"
Inverness inflicted a 3-0 defeat on their fierce rivals in Dingwall on February 25. Since then, however, they have won just once - a scraped 1-0 home victory over Partick Thistle.
Hughes added: "It's an absolutely massive game because we've still got aspirations to win every game between now and the end of the season. This is the last one before the split and we know the importance of it for the supporters.
"Ross County's league form is probably slightly better than ours at this moment. I saw them against Aberdeen and felt they were very good and, in my opinion, maybe deserved to win. They'll also be wanting revenge so it's all in the mix. We need to be at it and make sure and go and play with an energy and also a composure to take the sting out of them."
County still have designs on finishing a lucrative seventh in the table and Neale Cooper, the assistant manager, stressed that the primary focus remains escaping the dreaded Premiership play-off spot.
Next seasons Championship promises to be treacherously tough with both Rangers and Hearts joining the group with Premiership aspirations. Cooper, though, believes the entire County squad - including the five loan players who will pack their bags next month - have embraced the importance of the safety drive.
The former Aberdeen, Rangers and Aston Villa midfielder said: "I try to get the players fired up in the warm-ups and I've said it a lot to them - listen, let's take a reality check. We're in a serious battle at the moment to get away from that second bottom place. To do that, we need to fight.
"There's been a reaction and we've definitely seen a more high-pressure game, working really hard against sides and obviously defending a lot better. At certain times, we've given away too many cheap goals which is surprising for us. You get players in on loan but this is people's careers at stake, your livelihood; that's serious.
"They are good boys. All of the lads who've come in have fitted in really well. At the end of it, these boys go back to their clubs, but that's not been shown in their contribution. They are fantastic trainers and they work really hard, all the time.
The midfielder Stuart Kettlewell remains out with a hip/groin problem.