Ballymena have shown me a lack of respect: axed Glenn Ferguson
Glenn Ferguson has accused Ballymena United of a lack of respect and professionalism over the way he was sacked by the club and declared that there is no way they would have been relegated this season.
The legendary striker revealed that he was informed of his sacking in a telephone call on Monday evening and was then offered the opportunity to resign - an offer which he knocked back.
The axe came just seven weeks after Ferguson had led the Sky Blues to County Antrim Shield success, beating Linfield 3-2 in the final to lift the trophy for the second time in four seasons.
He also took them to a first Irish Cup final in 24 years when they lost to Glenavon in 2013.
Indeed, Ballymena played in a final in each of Ferguson's four seasons at the club, having also lost last season's League Cup decider to Cliftonville.
Despite all that his contract was terminated because league results hadn't matched their achievements in the knockout competitions - they have lost the last five league games in a row - and when the axe came Ferguson claims that the club's actions failed to reflect the respect he was shown when appointed in December 2011.
"When I got the job I was telephoned on a Friday night to ask me to go up to Ballymena to meet the board," said Ferguson.
"I drove up and that was when they told me that I had been successful. I would have liked to have been given the same respect when they sacked me rather than doing it by telephone.
"I would have liked to have been told face-to-face and I think it lacked a bit of professionalism - especially when I was asked if I wanted to resign in order to keep my dignity intact.
"My dignity is still intact and I was never going to walk away.
"I've been sacked, but I can take it on the chin and go with my head held high.
"There was no threat of relegation. We were good enough to be able to avoid that.
"We could still have finished in seventh place, which could have got us into Europe, but I haven't been given the opportunity to see that through when I would have liked to have stayed until at least the end of the season."
At the end of last season Ferguson, with his contract up, went public with a plea to the club to put more investment into the playing squad if they wanted to see results on the pitch improve.
Although he signed a one-year extension in June, Ferguson revealed that additional investment wasn't forthcoming.
He believes that things could have been different at the Sky Blues had he been able to strengthen the squad with the players he wanted and to make matters worse, the club were unable to prevent star player David Cushley from signing a pre-contract agreement with Crusaders just before Christmas.
"I was still working on the same budget this season as last season and it was hard to get players in," said Ferguson.
"I spoke to a number of players who I wanted to sign and we couldn't get close to other clubs who were paying more money.
"I look at clubs like Crusaders, Cliftonville and Glenavon who took a chance and they are getting the rewards for that now.
"As a manager you always think you could do more with a bit more help and two or three good quality players could have made a difference.
"We did our best and worked very hard with the players that we had, but at times we just weren't good enough to compete."
Ferguson said his goodbyes to the players when he paid a visit to training last night.
He has also received numerous messages from well wishers, many saying that they are sorry to see him go and praising him on the job he did at Ballymena.
"I can look back and be happy with the job that I did," said Ferguson. "Maybe someone else will come in and do a better job - time will tell - but I have nothing to be ashamed of.
"We got to four finals, the supporters had four days/nights out and on two occasions we sent them home happy, which hopefully they will remember."
The United board are expected to advertise the post this week and with no match this weekend after going out of the Irish Cup they could have a new man in charge by the time they face Crusaders at Seaview next Saturday.