‘You sort of wait for that first win don’t you, so that you can get off the mark with the new manager, and we’re made up that it came on Friday. To travel to Barry in Iwan’s first game was very difficult because of all the travelling, then TNS are who they are, one of the top sides in this league, but Prestatyn isn’t an easy place to go to either, with the weather and the pitch, and it was so good to come away with the win.
‘Iwan came in and straight away the intensity in training – for whatever reason – went to another level, and everything has been freshened up. Each week, game by game, we have seen how the fitness levels and performances have been improving since Iwan’s arrival without necessarily getting the luck we need to win games, but it was very pleasing and well deserved for us to get the three points last week.’
Whilst one win in three is what Williams has to show for his Llandudno FC managerial record so far, it is beyond denial that the club’s general performances have been much improved under the young manager’s leadership and Hughes elaborated on exactly what has led to that upturn in performances.
‘I just think that he’s an honest guy and you know what you get from him – what he wants you to contribute in terms of effort, you know he’ll bend over backwards to put in himself, and I think you can only respond well to someone like that.
‘He makes you want to work hard for him, and I think that has been the main thing he’s instilled to be honest with you, that work ethic and making everyone feel like we’re all in it together. We were probably feeling a little bit sorry for ourselves after that difficult run a few weeks ago, but he’s come in, taken the pressure off us, and just told us to go out and work hard because with that comes a bit of luck, which is what you need to succeed sometimes at such a high level.
‘Everything is starting to feel good again, we’ve certainly turned a corner, and I just hope it carries on really!’
It is no secret how close a bond Williams and Hughes have away from the pitch – in years gone by you could have caught the manager playfully mocking his player on twitter for his finishing back when the former was in charge of Caernarfon, but the 29-year-old Hughes admitted that he hadn’t thought about what the dynamic might be like when Williams became his manager, confessing he has since found it totally natural.
‘To be honest with you, it just feels really natural to the point where I’ve not even thought about that before. First and foremost, he is the manager, and I take everything he says on board, and away from football we are good friends, but we’ve been able to keep the two separate. I think, if anything, it makes me want to push and work harder for him because he is a mate and I don’t want to let him down.
‘He’s taken the shackles off of everyone, I think. He’s just told us to go out there, give it our best shot, and believed in us and people are noticing the difference in our performances, so what Iwan is doing is obviously working.
‘Definitely, I think the last few months have shown me how important confidence is for a team – when you’re confident everything goes on instinct, whereas if you’re in a tough run I think you’re a bit more conscious of what you’re doing and perhaps more prone to mistakes, and I think we’ve seen both sides of that this season, to be honest, but we’re on the right side of that battle at the moment so let’s see where it takes us.’
Hughes has scored over a quarter of all of Llandudno’s league goals this season, one off matching his previous best goals tally in the league of six and the midfielder noted how he’s feeling the best he’s ever felt in many respects.
‘A lot of people call me a moaner, more than a leader, ha! I feel good at the minute, probably the fittest I’ve ever been – I don’t know if that’s because as you get older you tend to look after yourself more or not – but things just seem to be going well on the pitch.
‘I’ve already matched my record goal tally in a season, which is six, and I always set a target of ten, so who knows, if I keep miss-hitting them, putting my head down and hoping for the best when I shoot, then maybe I’ll get to ten or beyond this year!
‘I’m not a confidence player, so to speak – you do get a lot of lads who need to feeling confident to be at their best, but I’ve always stuck to my game, no matter whether I’m in a good run of form or not, and certainly this season I think that has helped me a lot!’