Player/assistant manager Tom Shaw and captain John McCombe have paid tribute to Jon McCarthy after he was sacked as Chester FC boss.
McCarthy paid the price for a horrendous run of form in 2017 that has seen the Blues pick up just 20 points from the last 84 on offer.
But Shaw, who has taken over the manager's role on a caretaker basis, said: "It was really tough to take.
"He's a man who has done a hell of a lot for this football club, worked endless hours, and gave it everything. He's a real terrific bloke away from football as well. He would do absolutely anything for you.
"It's sad to see him go but he's someone I'll be in contact with forever, someone who'll be a mentor to me, and maybe someone I'll work with again some day.
"But I've been fortunate to have been given the chance to lead the boys out in this next patch of games. I'm excited about it and hopefully we'll be successful.
"It's been strange to lead training and obviously lads are in different frames of mind as it (the sacking) still came as a bit of a shock, despite the results, as everybody could see the work he was doing and that he was doing everything right.
"It's a strange feeling but we've got to pick the lads up because we've got a job to do. We don't want to miss out on any more points."
But, while applications for the manager's job are now being accepted, with Marcus Bignot among those will apply , the midfielder will certainly be in charge for Saturday's visit of Ebbsfleet United (3pm).
And, ahead of the game, Blues skipper McCombe said: "The gaffer going is disappointing for the lads as he's a good man who has worked hard.
"But the results didn't work out for us on the pitch and as players we're disappointed with that and feel that we've let the manager down.
"But in football it happens and we've just got to move on now and get ready for a big game on Saturday against Ebbsfleet.
"It's hard to put a finger on it (why it went wrong). We've been working very hard on the training ground and we tried every different way to try and get wins on the pitch.
"So sometimes it's hard to pin down exactly what it might be. We've just got to keep working hard and go and get a win on Saturday."