Fleetwood Town boss John Sheridan refused to use the announcement about Joey Barton’s Highbury arrival as an excuse for their failure to stop Wigan Athletic’s promotion party.
Town crumbled to a 4-0 defeat against the Latics who returned to the Championship following Shrewsbury Town’s draw with Bury.
Seventy-two hours earlier, Town had announced that Sheridan’s short-term deal would not be extended.
Instead, he would be replaced by ex-Burnley man Barton in June when his ban from football ends.
However, Sheridan preferred to dwell on the performance shown by Paul Cook’s visitors, who sealed promotion in an emphatic manner.
He said: “I’m not blaming that (the Barton news).
“It was not to be; it would not have helped them but no way am I looking at that as an excuse.
“I felt we performed well and was confident we would get something from the game.
“We have played against a very good team at the end of the day; give them credit.
“Congratulations to Cooky who has done another brilliant job.
“We just move on from it; I don’t want (the defeat) to taint what we have achieved even though the team has had a poor season.
“To stay in the division I think the lads have achieved a hell of a lot.
“I think we are 98 per cent safe and, to get where we are, I’m not going to be hard on them.”
Town had been well in the game until Wigan took a 32nd minute lead.
Max Power broke the deadlock when Town defender Gethin Jones was down injured.
Instead of putting the ball out of play, Town’s Ash Hunter tried to play his way out of trouble and was penalised for it.
Sheridan said: “It ended up a very hard afternoon for the lads but, up until the first goal, I thought we were in the game and I was pleased with the way the game was going.
“Competing against the best team in the league, we possibly could have taken the lead ourselves.
“I think the first goal is the killer; Wigan are one of those teams where you go a goal behind and it soon ends up two.
“They keep the ball very well and make life difficult for you.; that is where the game has ended up.
“The first goal is very poor on our part; Ashley should kick the ball out, Gethin is down and he could put it down the line.
“But he did not; hopefully he will learn from it and we pay the price.
“From then on it is a very difficult afternoon.
“They got the second soon after and they are good at keeping possession and made life very hard for us.
“They have intelligent players and the game just panned out, not through lack of effort from the players.
“Wigan made it very difficult; we were playing against a team that just got promoted – they are a good team.”