Departing Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic admits "everyone lost belief in the team" during a dismal season - but insists David Moyes was not to blame.
Moyes succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson as manager last summer on a six-year contract but was sacked last month, United eventually finishing 22 points behind table-topping Manchester City and failing to qualify for Europe.
The last of Vidic's eight and a half years with the club, ahead of a move this summer to Serie A side Inter Milan, was a disappointing one.
"People end up saying the players are not good enough and we need to buy better ones," he told BBC Sport.
"It was a bad time and the players could have done better. But everyone lost belief in the team."
The 20 most shocking moments of the 2013/14 Premier League season
The 20 most shocking moments of the 2013/14 Premier League season
1/13 Michael Jackson removed, only to reappear elsewhere
Just weeks after buying Fulham from Mohamed Al Fayed, new owner Shahid Kahn decided to remove the most famous statue in football, despite threats from his predecessor that his moustache would be cut off if he dared to do so. Few knew the whereabout of the King of Pop after it disappeared from Craven Cottage, until rather bizarrely the National Football Museum revealed Fayed had donated it to their collection. The eccentric Egyptian owner said the removal of the statue had been the reason for Fulham's relegation.
2/13 Theo Walcott mocks Tottenham fans... twice
Despite being stretchered off with an injury that would rule him out for the rest of the season and the World Cup - Theo Walcott had a big grin on his face as he was carried off the Emirates pitch. That's because he was winding up the visiting Tottenham fans by making a gesture about the 2-0 scoreline. Spurs fans were furious with some pelting Walcott (and those carrying him, even though it turned out some were Tottenham fans) with coins. Despite causing such a furore, Walcott made the same gesture during Arsenal's parade around the pitch after their final home game.
3/13 Ian Holloway walks away
Managers are rarely short of confidence, despite nearly half of them not being deemed good enough and replaced during the course of the season. So it was rather refreshing when Ian Holloway held his hands up, admitted he didn't feel things were working out with Crystal Palace and left the club. At the time Palace had lost seven of their first eight Premier League games. The decision by Holloway was in retrospect possibly the best of the season from the Eagles' point of view, with Tony Pulis coming in and against the odds guiding the club to safety.
4/13 Swansea at war
Six Swansea players were reportedly involved in a fight at the club's training ground - an incident made all the worse thanks to chairman Huw Jenkins happening to witness the clash. While training ground bust-ups are nothing unusual, the frequency with which they happened at Swansea over the course of this season has been. In January a 'screaming Chico Flores' was reported to have picked up a brick during a row with Garry Monk, the man who would later replace Michael Laudrup as manager.
5/13 Alan Pardew
Alan Pardew has always been rather animated on the touchline (just ask Arsene Wenger), but the Newcastle manager took it to a bizarre new level when his team played Hull this season. As David Meyler looked to quickly retrieve the ball from Pardew's technical area, he came into contact with the Newcastle boss. That was enough provocation for Pardew to go and head-butt the defender. It led to his club fining him £100,000 and giving him a warning and the FA banning him from stadiums for three games with a further four-match touchline ban. Quite easily the strangest moment of this, or indeed, any season.
6/13 Cardiff employ Kazakh work experience kid
Vincent Tan is something of an unorthodox club owner - from his leather gloves to disregard for Cardiff fans in changing the club colours from blue to 'lucky' red - but his choice of replacement for Iain Moody after the head of recruitment was sacked was even stranger. The man charged with replacing the experienced Moody was Alisher Apsalyamov, a 23-year-old from Kazakhstan who had been at the club on work experience over the summer. Apsalyamov, reportedly a big fan of Fifa and a friend of Tan's son, didn't last long in the role due to problems with his work visa.
7/13 Chris Hughton sacked
That Chris Hughton was sacked during the season came as little surprise. But that Delia at the Norwich board left it so late was bizarre. There were just five games of the season remaining when it was deemed a change was needed, so out went Hughton and in came youth coach Neil Adams. At the time the Canaries were five points clear of the relegation zone. Before the season was over they were relegated.
8/13 Luis Suarez becomes likeable
Having missed the first six games of the season due to biting an opponent, changing opinions seemed an impossible task for Luis Suarez. But across the season the Liverpool striker has been the best player to watch, hitting the 30 goal barrier in the process. The Uruguyan's redemption was confirmed with the two highest individual honours - the Football Writers' Award and the PFA Players' Player of the year.
9/13 The quenelle
When Nicolas Anelka made a gesture during a match around Christmas time it went largely unnoticed, probably because people were more in shock that he had actually found the back of the net for West Brom. But it turned out the gesture, dubbed the 'quenelle' or an 'inverted nazi salute', is deemed by anti-semitic by some. It led the FA to issue the Frenchman a five-match ban and £80,000 fine. Meanwhile the Baggies sacked him for gross misconduct. Despite Anelka having played for half the teams in England, no-one seemed particularly sorry to see him go.
10/13 Mark Clattenburg upsets Adam Lallana
Mark Clattenburg, something of a moth to the limelight, found himself the centre of attention for what seemed to most an innocuous remark. While officiating a Southampton match, he allegedly told Adam Lallana: 'You are very different now, since you've played for England - you never used to be like this.' It was enough for Saints to lodge an official complaint and suggest that Clattenburg had insulted their player and should not referee their games again. The official was cleared of any wrongdoing.
11/13 Steven Taylor Twitter gaffe
Steven Taylor escaped FA action, but needed to be reminded of his responsibilities after an ill-judged tweet. In response to being mocked by team-mates over his poor French, The Newcastle defender tweeted a picture of Massadio Haïdara along with some 'look-a-likes' - two other black players - Papiss Cissé and Moussa Sissoko - as well as a tribesman. It was accompanied by the words 'it's always good to see you guys smiling'.
12/13 Tom Huddlestone haircut
Tom Huddlestone's hair was getting out of control. But having vowed not to cut it until he found the back of the net, it just kept getting bigger. So when the Hull midfielder ended his 32-month goal drought in the 6-0 win over Fulham (a game possibly deserving of it's own mention in this countdown) the barber was called in. In front of the photographers in the KC Stadium changing rooms, his unwieldy hair was trimmed and in the process a lot of money was made for charity.
Lynne Cameron/PA Wire
13/13 Arsenal get smashed - again and again
Arsenal were genuine title contenders for much of the season, but defeats to the top sides saw their challenge come undone. Losing to the teams at the top isn't unforgivable, but the manner of many of the defeats was shocking. Over the course of the season, Arsene Wenger's side lost in equally disastrous circumstances to the other three teams in the top four, going down 6-3 to Manchester City, 5-1 to Liverpool and 6-0 to Chelsea.
Moyes' tactics were often criticised, notably after the 2-2 draw with relegated Fulham when United racked up 81 largely aimless crosses before conceding a stoppage-time equaliser.
Vidic told the Daily Telegraph: "I am not saying that the David Moyes way was bad, but these players feel more comfortable playing a certain way.
"(He) lost his job because he did not succeed in doing what he wanted to achieve. He was really committed to the job and desperately wanted to do well. But unfortunately, it didn't happen and we are all sad."
The Serbia international acknowledges strong words were exchanged but denies any were aimed at Moyes.
"The players did argue among ourselves," he told BBC Sport. "But we were arguing to get better.
"We never argued with the manager or his assistants. Never.
"People said we lost faith in David Moyes. We didn't. We knew he was trying to build something."
Meanwhile, former United captain Roy Keane has read the riot act on Vidic's fellow defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, insisting the pair have "gone backwards".
Jones and Smalling were both named in England's squad for the World Cup but Keane believes they have failed to live up to expectations and time is running out.
"We were told two or three years ago Jones was going to be the new Duncan Edwards and Smalling was this and that," Keane said at the launch of ITV's World Cup coverage.
"I've watched United live nine or 10 times this year and they have been none of those things - if anything I think they have gone backwards.
"Jones needs to toughen up - he's playing for Man United. Every time I see him he is getting carried off.
"I don't think they'll play (for England) on their current form. The two of them have had disappointing seasons."
Keane believes Moyes' sacking was harsh and says more blame should lie with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who failed to secure several high-profile targets last summer.
"Why give Moyes a six-year contract? He had one transfer window and it's not always down to the manager when players don't come in," Keane said.
"I think Ed Woodward needs to look at himself. He's got to get deals done. I think Moyes should have been given more time."
- More about:
- Manchester United