Former Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic says he remained confident that he could have turned things around at the relegation threatened club.
Jokanovic, who was sacked on Wednesday, guided the Cottagers to the Premier League through the play-offs last season after a 23 match unbeaten run, but was replaced by former Leicester man Claudio Ranieri after just one win in 12 this term.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, Jokanovic said he was surprised at the timing: "I was still confident that we would have been able to turn things around after our slow start to the season, just as we had done in previous years, but I respectfully accept the club's decision.
"I feel that we gave the club's fans a footballing identity and a team to be proud of."
His sacking comes after a dismal run of form that has seen Fulham concede a staggering 31 league goals. Their latest defeat to relegation rivals Huddersfied in a match already dubbed as a relegation ‘six pointer’ signalled the beginning of the end of Jokanovic, with defeat at Liverpool last Sunday the final nail in the coffin.
Whilst he was disappointed at his departure, he was full of praise for the club and chairman Shahid Khan, who stuck by the former Watford manager despite an indifferent start to last season.
"I would like to express my gratitude to Shahid Khan for giving me the opportunity to manage this great club and for his kindness," he added.
"It has also been a real pleasure to work with the players, and my staff and I wish to thank the squad for all of their effort and dedication."
One player that flourished under Jokanovic's stewardship was striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, and the Serb has expressed his sorrow at his fellow countryman's departure.
"He did a lot for me and when we spoke yesterday Jokanovic was consoling me more then I consoled him. I am very sorry about it. It is a bad news for me considering the good influence that Jokanovic had on my career for the last year and the half."