Aston Villa striker Darren Bent admits the players have to share some responsibility for the departure of Alex McLeish but he thinks the sacking will have come as a relief for his former manager.
The Scot faced a wall of opposition from fans having been appointed from city rivals Birmingham last summer and the criticism worsened when Villa were dragged into a relegation battle. Villa's 16th-place finish, just two points above the Barclays Premier League drop zone, was their worst in six years as they returned their lowest points total (38) in 42 years.
It resulted in owner Randy Lerner taking decisive action in dispensing with McLeish's services, but Bent told the Birmingham Mail: "The players must take responsibility too, including me."
He continued: "Managers always get the brunt of the criticism because they make the decisions but, collectively, we haven't done well enough over the season.
"I actually think there have been games where we have played well and haven't got the rub of the green and the results we deserved, but we finished where we finished in the table."
On McLeish, he said: "The manager wouldn't admit it, I'm sure, but maybe it's a bit of a relief to him after the fans' reaction.
"Aston Villa fans aren't used to seeing this football club in this position and you can understand why they have got frustrated.
"When they see us down there in the table they will get annoyed and obviously the Birmingham thing didn't help either.
"But it's all about results and Aston Villa and relegation shouldn't even be in the same sentence."