Departing Kilmarnock boss Kenny Shiels claims he was a "victim" of his love for the club.
It was confirmed on Tuesday morning that the Northern Irishman had left the Rugby Park outfit by mutual consent following days of media speculation. He was dismissed after Killie finished ninth in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League while a four-match ban handed to the 57-year-old following outspoken media comments were also taken into consideration.
But Shiels insists he only ever tried to protect the Ayrshire outfit when he expressed his bullish views to the press. He told Press Association Sport: "I think I've left Kilmarnock in really good shape. We have got stability and I've built the foundations. But I feel that I've been the victim of falling in love with the football club."
He added: "I tried to over protect the club and that was my biggest weakness. I just want to apologise to the supporters for that.
"I treated the club like my family and I love my family. I loved the football club too. I didn't set out to harm the club but as I tried to protect it from what I felt where injustices, I became a victim of that."
Shiels stepped up from assistant manager to replace former boss Mixu Paatelainen in April 2011.
He led the club to back-to-back victories over Rangers in 2012 and secured the club's first victory at Celtic Park in 57 years in October of that year. But his biggest achievement as Rugby Park boss came seven months earlier when Killie stunned the Hoops with a 1-0 win to claim the Scottish League Cup.
However, a clause in a contract agreed with chairman Michael Johnstone allowed the club to dismiss him if they failed to finish out of the top flight's bottom four. And they used both that and his latest disciplinary problems as the basis for the decision to go their separate ways.
A club statement read: "The Club thanks Kenny for his service over the last three years, firstly as assistant to Mixu Paatelainen, thereafter as interim manager and subsequently as manager. Kenny's work ethic and his determination to introduce young players into the first team were evident throughout his time with the Club.
"Unfortunately season 2012-13 saw the Club exit the League Cup at the first hurdle and go on to record our poorest home record since season 1980-81, culminating in seven matches without a victory at Rugby Park to exit the Scottish Cup and miss out on the 'top six' and then drop to ninth place with five defeats in our final six SPL fixtures."