Marvin Bartley admits the Livingston players were as shocked as anyone over Gary Holt’s departure.
But the Livi captain has told his team-mates they have to move on quickly and not dwell on the reasons why he left.
Holt stepped down on Thursday after a five-match run without a league win, having admitted the players might need a fresh voice in the wake of Saturday’s home defeat by St Mirren.
But Livi, under caretaker boss David Martindale, can reach the Betfred Cup quarter-finals on Saturday if they beat Ayr at the Tony Macaroni Arena and that is the main focus for Bartley.
“Obviously the lads saw the gaffer’s press conference after the game on Saturday but even after that there’s an element of shock,” he said.
“We didn’t expect the interview on Saturday. It had all been perfectly normal. We were as shocked as you guys in the press when he said those things on Saturday, and now he’s gone.
“As harsh as it sounds, football goes on. I have been in football a long, long time and I know it’s a results business. The gaffer did so well last season but obviously he felt he couldn’t take us forward any more.
“It does sound ruthless because I am saying we have to continue, but we do.
“There’s no time for us to be upset about it or to question ourselves and why he’s gone. The gaffer has made a decision to go and we have to respect that.
“Now as players we need to get a result on Saturday. If we go into Saturday’s game thinking about all these things, we can’t control that, so there’s no point.
“There is no point as a squad double-guessing why he has gone or if we could have seen it coming.”
Bartley felt Livi were close to getting a run of results and wants to dedicate a cup win to the man who took him to West Lothian and made him captain.
The former Hibernian player said: “We have let ourselves down, we haven’t won enough games. Every player is disappointed with where we are in the league.
“Have we let him down? That will probably be a question for you guys.
“Personally I felt I gave 100 per cent whenever I was on the pitch and I’m sure a lot of my team-mates will say the same. We just didn’t get the rub of the green at times.
“Unfortunately in football the manager takes the brunt of it when things aren’t going well.
“It would be a fitting end to his spell if we can win and dedicate it to him.”
Bartley has begun his coaching career at the club but ruled himself out of the running to succeed Holt.
“It’s far too early for me,” the 34-year-old said. “I’m enjoying playing at this moment in time.
“Results haven’t been great but my mind is firmly focused on the pitch. I want to be a player and that’s all I care about.”
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