Paul Ince said sorry to supporters after Blackpool’s woeful 6-1 defeat at Brighton.
The Seasiders were outplayed from start to finish on the south coast, and the one goal they scored was put in his own net by Brighton skipper Dean Hammond.
At least results elsewhere were mostly favourable and Pool are still four points clear of the Championship relegation zone with two games to play, and with five clubs between themselves and the bottom three.
907 Pool fans made the long trip on Saturday and Ince could only apologise to them.
He said: “I just have to say sorry to the fans – I’m devastated for them.
“I was gutted for each one of them after they made such a long, long journey and we wanted to put on a performance for them.
“We really appreciate the effort they made. It was a long journey back for them but I hope they know we appreciate them. “The proper fans know that wasn’t like us. We will respond next week.”
It was Pool’s third game in eight days, the previous two on an energy-sapping Bloomfield Road pitch.
Boss Ince didn’t want to make excuses but added: “It was a horrible afternoon. We just have to take it on the chin.
“The games we’ve played lately seemed to take their toll at Brighton. We looked really leggy and didn’t get going.
“We haven’t started quickly enough in recent games and it was the same again.
“But if you look at the performances since I’ve been here, it’s clear that was just a bad day at the office.
“After two tough games at home, the last place we probably wanted to go was Brighton.
“They have a massive pitch and play expansive football.”
Pool face Derby at home this Saturday before ending the season at Bolton.
And Ince hopes they tighten up again after this setback. “It’s not the manner of the goals we conceded, it’s the fact we conceded so many,” he added.
“I really think we can put Saturday down to tiredness. People weren’t getting tight enough, not going that extra yard. That happens when fatigue sets in.
“I said at half-time that if we went out and got the first goal, you never know where it would lead. Instead we went out and let another in within a minute.
“Brighton are a fantastic side. They are on the up and heading towards the Premier League.
“Their budget is probably three times ours, sSo when you get a team like that on a summer’s day, it can be tough.
“They are always going to have days like that – sadly one came against us.”
Pool’s afternoon was made worse when substitute Gary Taylor-Fletcher was forced off with a head injury.
The striker attempted to carry on after lengthy treatment only to complain of double vision.
Ince said: “It was a terrible collision between him and the goalkeeper.
“He was starting to do well and we’d got back into the game.
“After the game he was dazed but he said he’s ok.”
Brighton boss Gus Poyet warned his players against complacency after their record win at the Amex strengthened their hold on a play-off place.
The Seagulls manager said: “It’s not done yet and we need to keep going. We will want to finish it next week at Leeds and not have it still undecided going into the final game (against Wolves).
“I was hoping when it was 3-0 at half-time that we wouldn’t blow it and lose 4-3 because that could have been the end for us.
“But we are looking good. We have momentum at the right time of the season and are still looking fresh.”