Kilmarnock full-back Niko Hamalainen insisted there was no lack of respect for manager Angelo Alessio before his shock departure.
The Italian’s six-month reign ended on Tuesday with Killie sitting fifth in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Former Killie striker Kris Boyd claimed Alessio had lost command of the dressing room with players taking it upon themselves to revert to a more defensive style but Hamalainen stressed there was mutual respect in the dressing room.
The Finland international, who Alessio signed on loan from QPR, said: “I wasn’t expecting it and I don’t think a lot of players were expecting it either. It was kind of shocking but that’s football, you have to get on with it.
“I thought it was a shock. For sure I feel sorry for him, he brought me here and had belief in me and gave me the opportunity, and I am pretty sure every other player will feel the same.
“On Tuesday before he left we all spoke to him and he had a little chat with each and every player.
“The way he walked in when he broke the news, you could see in his face he was shocked and looking like ‘what just happened?’.
“After every game he would come round every player, win, lose or draw, and shake our hands. We would look at that like he obviously respects us so we have to respect him as well.”
The 22-year-old did not feel any disconnect between management and players.
“The only real thing I can think of is the language barrier because he couldn’t speak really good English but obviously he had Massimo (Donati) there to translate,” he said. “Other than that I couldn’t see much.
“The last three games were not our type of level so maybe that poor form kicked on and people started moaning to each other, but I don’t think that was a big issue.”
Kirk Broadfoot criticised Alessio’s training methods after leaving Killie for St Mirren in August but the left-back said: “Since I’ve been here I have felt fit and if you asked all the other players they would say the same thing.
“Maybe it was a different style to what the Scottish players are used to in training but I think it was good.”
Alex Dyer takes caretaker charge when Motherwell visit Rugby Park on Saturday and the assistant manager intends to deploy the approach favoured by Alessio’s predecessor, Steve Clarke.
Dyer said: “We need to win a game, obviously, and just get the boys running and chasing and working hard again, and putting a mark down like we used to.
“Everyone used to come here and know it was going to be a hard game. We want to do that again.
“Why has that changed? We went through that last season for a little period when we didn’t win for seven games. It happens in a season.
“You have just got to make sure you are back on track and get to that point as soon as possible.
“It does happen. All good teams go through a period in the season when things don’t work out, and this is our point.”