Neil McDonald insists he doesn’t regret taking the Blackpool job, despite his disastrous 11-month reign.
In his final interview before agreeing to leave Bloomfield Road, the 50-year-old finally admitted off-field issues and recruitment problems had hampered his season in charge.
After most of his coaching staff walked out, McDonald cut a lonely figure in the 10 days after Pool’s relegation was confirmed, refusing to quit despite negative talks with chairman Karl Oyston.
But speaking for the final time before his fate was sealed on Wednesday, a defiant McDonald said: “I’d take the job again if I could go back a year.
“There are no regrets from me about coming here. My only regret is we didn’t win enough points to stay in the league. Everybody was to blame – certainly me, the players and everyone at the club.”
McDonald’s time will be remembered for mainly negative football and questionable media interviews, which left him largely unpopular with the Seasiders fanbase.
His constant defence of chairman Oyston didn’t help. Unlike his predecessors, McDonald was determined to avoid rows behind the scenes, though he admitted: “I tried to keep out of all the off-field issues but it all certainly affects the players, that’s for sure.
“To express themselves as players they need backing from everywhere off the pitch.
“All the way through the season we were faced with difficult situations and that needs to be resolved.
“Whoever is playing for the team and whoever is managing, the team needs a chance to get promoted.
“We all know the documented problems at the club and it certainly affects the players.”
When McDonald arrived last June, he was welcomed by a newly-relegated squad of just six players.
After scrambling a squad together, Blackpool struggled in the opening weeks of the season, taking one point from their first five league games and crashing out of the Capital One Cup at Northampton.
And McDonald believes those early weeks were crucial: “The poor start we had after building a new team, and the lack of goals, cost us relegation,” he said.
“One point out of 15 wasn’t a good start and it’s been a big game of catch-up for us all through the season.
“We have competed and played well. At times we didn’t play well but we certainly didn’t score enough goals to catch up.
“In the end we got relegated by not scoring enough goals all the way through the season.”
A 5-1 defeat at Peterborough on the closing day slammed the final nail into Pool’s League One coffin.
McDonald apologised for relegation but insisted it wasn’t just the run-in which cost his side.
He said: “I apologise to the fans for the whole of the season. We weren’t good enough and it is tragic that we have been relegated.
“Mentally we were very fragile. I think that was shown on the final day of the season.
“But it wasn’t just the final day which saw us go down – we weren’t good enough all the way through the season.
“I told the players they embarrassed me and the football club, but it wasn’t just about the final day.
“The players have to show more backbone than they did in the season.
“We were relegated as a football club because the players didn’t do themselves justice throughout the season.”