Tom Shaw cut a disappointed figure after his three-game spell in caretaker charge of Chester FC ended with a dispiriting 4-0 defeat to high-flying Dover Athletic.
Shaw had eked out improved performances from the struggling Blues in the two fixtures that followed boss Jon McCarthy's sacking.
But his hopes of ending his short tenure with a victory were dashed as his side suffered a second-half collapse at The Crabble.
Chester's biggest loss of the season so far stretched their winless run to six matches and left them fourth from bottom going into next Saturday's home clash with Maidenhead United (September 23).
The Blues expect to have named a new manager in time for the visit of promoted Maidenhead to the Swansway Chester Stadium.
But they will go into it on the back of a defeat in which player/assistant manager Shaw admitted they had been outmuscled by a more streetwise and ruthless Dover team led by Chris Kinnear.
Tom Shaw's verdict on the game
"I think in the end I over-thought what we were going to do today. They defend in a certain way where they follow man for man all over the pitch. It’s almost like basketball-style defending so we came up with a plan to try and affect that and I think we did that for 20 minutes and I thought we were on top of the game.
"But then we made an error, conceding from a set-play, and that’s what they’re after. They grind you down, they run hard, they tackle, they head it, they kick it. They’re aren’t pretty, but my word they are effective. You have to take your hat off to how their manager sets them up. It is completely different to anything I have ever seen but it works.
"You have to stand up to that side of the game first. Forget tactics, you have to stand up to the scrap and the fight and if you don’t, they grind you down and beat you. They’ve got some real physicality. Every one of their players is big, strong and mobile and I think that’s what’s come out on top in the end. I thought we moved the ball pretty well but it’s proven that this division is decided in both boxes where you’ve got to dig-in in yours and effect it in theirs. They were more effective.”
Tom Shaw on his spell in charge and his own future
“I’ve learned a hell of a lot because I think for two-and-a-half-games out of three we’ve been the better side and I’ve got one point out of nine. It’s not synchronised swimming, where you get points for looking good. It’s football, where you’ve got to win the game, no matter how you win it. Dover are not pretty but they’re second in the league so what I’ll take away from this is it’s a results-based game and being pretty and nice and working hard isn’t quite enough, especially at this level of football.
“I’d like to thank the players for giving me everything and Mark (Maguire, chief executive) and the board for giving me the chance to front it. It’s been a big learning curve me.
“I went over at the end to the fans to thank them and apologise for the scoreline. It’s amazing they make that sort of effort (to come here) and I just wish we could have got more points for them this week. It’s a club that’s really got the potential to go places. The supporters, when the team is playing well, really get behind you and the Deva is rocking. So the new manager has got to find a way to get results, entertain a little bit, but mainly get the results.
“I’ll be interested to see what they’ve (the new manager) got in store for me. I’ve got a playing contract, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being assistant manager, and I just hope I’m going to survive and be involved in this club. I love working at this club in whatever job. Hopefully he’ll have me on board and I can help him out however he wants me to.”