Garry Monk has spoken for the first time following his surprise dismissal as manager of Birmingham City earlier this week.
Having been appointed in March 2018, the 40-year-old became a fan favourite after keeping the club in the Championship last season despite having to contend with a transfer ban and a nine-point deduction in the table.
Monk has now issued a lengthy statement to Blues fans via the League Managers' Association - read it in full below:
"First and foremost, I want to say that the opportunity to manage your club was an absolute honour.
"Right from the moment I walked through the door, I felt such a strong connection and understanding with the players, first-team staff and our exceptional fan base.
"Fighting off what many thought was a certain relegation at the end of the 2017/18 campaign planted the seed in all of us to try and turn the club's fortunes around and ensure that we strived for better and, most importantly, all worked together towards that aim.
"Last season, our well-documented club issues brought massive difficulties before we had even got started and, although the challenges continued throughout, my staff, players and myself as the manager were all determined to remain focused on delivering an improved and competitive team with a clear identity, both for ourselves and the supporters, and a side that represented the values that are so dear to our fans.
"I believe that the sheer number of supporters that came to St. Andrew's and travelled the length and breadth of the country to back the team last term is a testament to the improvements that had been made and the belief and unity we had all created together.
"In view of this, the fact that I am not being given the opportunity to build on those solid foundations is a huge disappointment. However, I come away with a great sense of satisfaction and pride at the work we have all done up until this point.
"I am aware of certain disappointing comments the Club has made in the wake of my dismissal. Mindful of my contractual obligations, it is not my intention, certainly not at this stage, to engage with those comments. I would rather focus on the many positives I have experienced in my time with Birmingham City FC.
"I want to say a massive thank you to the players, who gave me everything and displayed a firm commitment to the work I asked them to do day in, day out.
"Every member of the squad was a real privilege to work with. I also want to thank the first-team staff for all of their hard work, support and friendship.
"I am also very grateful to U23 coach Richard Beale, the staff from the media department, the foundation, the ground staff and the Blues community as a whole, as well as all of the club employees for your excellent work.
"Last but most definitely not least, I would like to express all of my appreciation and send my very best wishes to every single one of you Bluenoses.
"You have offered me fantastic support and a true sense of belonging throughout my time at the club, for which I will forever be immensely grateful.
"Keep Right On,
"Garry Monk." body check tags ::