John Barnes last night insisted he could have made a success of the Tranmere Rovers job if given more time, having been unceremoniously dumped as manager after two wins from 11 League One games.
The image of Barnes departing from Prenton Park with his bike summed up the job he was undertaking at a threadbare club currently in pursuit of a new owner. "It's easy to point fingers and try to blame people, but the circumstances were difficult," said Barnes, whose exit follows a nine-year pursuit for a second club management role after a six-month reign at Celtic.
"We lost six of the first-team players from last year, and there are no resources to replace such key players. The budgets have been slashed. We still started well, but then in a space of a week we had to play Leeds and Charlton and I think the confidence drained out of the side when we lost those two matches.
"I still believe we were capable of meeting the challenges, and you could see the response we had against Colchester and Wycombe [a 1-1 home draw and 1-0 away win respectively last month] so it's very disappointing. I'm not the first person to go through this, and won't be the last. I still believe we could have turned things around."
Barnes will feel indignation after his departure, along with assistant and former Liverpool team-mate Jason McAteer.
He had not expected the timing of the decision, having spoken only this week of his desire to continue in the role, citing the example of his boss at Watford, Graham Taylor, who overcame early struggles in his first managerial post at Lincoln to manage England.
Barnes told The Independent in August that he felt the struggle for black coaches to survive in the game was a consequence of latent racism. "You have black coaches in the academies but until you say, 'this man has the same intellectual ability whether he is black or he is white' there is still that same question mark," he said.
Four senior players left Tranmere this summer because their contracts ran out and Rovers could not improve their terms. It is a sign of the club's travails that the physio Les Parry has been asked to succeed Barnes, albeit on a temporary basis. He will be assisted by reserve team coach Shaun Garnett, with Tranmere not playing until Monday night at home to Stockport.