Craig Shakespeare insists Claudio Ranieri had not lost the dressing room at Leicester City but feels it is "irrelevant" to discuss whether it was right to sack him.
The 65-year-old was controversially sacked as manager on Thursday - under a year after winning the Premier League at odds of 5,000-1 - with the club sitting just one point clear of the relegation zone.
Caretaker manager Shakespeare - assistant under Ranieri - reportedly fell out with the Italian this season, but insists their relationship was always fine.
He also stressed he has had no problems with the attitude of the club's players ahead of Monday's pivotal match with Liverpool, saying while there was "frustration" in the squad, he did not feel Ranieri had lost their confidence, nor had they revolted against him.
"I think whether it is the right decision is irrelevant and we all know results have not been good enough," Shakespeare said at his pre-match media conference.
"We have to respect the owners' decision. We haven't been good enough this season. We know people lose jobs for results and that's what seems to have happened here.
"It is very sad. The players are hurt and frustrated. I have not had one problem with them - there was frustration but he [Ranieri] had not lost the dressing room. I am not aware of any senior players going to the owners.
"We all know these things happen in football but everyone at the club will have to remember him and have the utmost respect for what has achieved.
"My relationship with Claudio has been perfectly fine all the way along. A lot of the talk of unrest within the dressing room has been speculation.
"I spoke to him last night and he thanked me for my support throughout. It was not brief and we exchanged views. A lot of what we said will stay private.
"Claudio seemed fine. He was a bit shocked as we all were but he is very level headed and knows this is just football. His tone was fine."
CS: “We've 13 games left and that starts Monday. The fans have always been magnificent. We need to be together and behind the team.” February 24, 2017
CS: “Confidence can go very quickly but it can come back very quickly. My aim is to restore that confidence quickly.” February 24, 2017
Shakespeare wants to see an improvement at both ends of the pitch against Liverpool.
"I want to see my teams play with flair, but I like clean sheets as well," he said. "I'm totally convinced that we have enough talent in that dressing room. Come Monday, we will be ready.
"We flew back from Seville. There were problems with landing in the storm. I arrived home and the director of football told me what was happening and asked me to be caretaker for the next game.
"I always feel sorry when people lose their jobs. I'm not aware of the club having spoken to any candidates.
"Do I think I can do the job? Yes. Does it faze me? No. I have been a caretaker before. I've never been in a press conference quite as big as this! But I'm ready for the challenge.
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