Kenny Shiels out of Kilmarnock, but he won't go quietly
Kenny Shiels put the heartbreak of his exit from Kilmarnock to one side to say sorry to the club's fans.
And as Killie supporters staged a protest outside their Rugby Park stadium, Shiels revealed to the Belfast Telegraph that he would return to the managerial hotseat if chairman Michael Johnston offered the olive branch.
As fans with banners demanded that the chairman leave rather than the manager, Shiels said: "Yes I would go back. Of course I would.
"I wanted to carry on the work that I was doing and I never wanted to go."
A clause in Shiels' contract left him open to the sack after Kilmarnock finished in the bottom four of the Scottish Premier League.
But despite the club ending the season with their worst home record in over 30 years, the fans wanted the manager who led them to League Cup glory just 15 months ago to stay.
It was the on-pitch record and a number of off-field disciplinary issues, which resulted in a series of touchline bans, that led to yesterday's parting of the ways with the club stating that it was by "mutual agreement".
"I'm heartbroken but that is football," said Shiels.
"It's hard to take but I will just have to get on with it and try and get another job somewhere."
He added: "I think I've left Kilmarnock in really good shape. We have got stability and I've built the foundations, but I feel that I've been the victim of falling in love with the football club.
"I tried to over-protect the club and that was my biggest weakness. I just want to apologise to the supporters for that.
"I treated the club like my family and I love my family. I loved the football club too.
"I didn't set out to harm the club but as I tried to protect it from what I felt were injustices, I became a victim of that."
Shiels refused to be silenced by Scottish FA bosses, despite being sanctioned on various occasions during his two year spell as manager of Kilmarnock.
And although it was what the club described as "a difficult relationship with the Scottish FA" that ultimately led to his departure, Shiels wouldn't change the past.
"Anything that I said was to protect the club," said Shiels.
"Other people can make up their own mind about the judicial system in Scottish football. All I ever did was tell the truth – that's it and I've no regrets about that."
Nor does he regret the approach that he took when trying to build a team for the future and also his attempts to secure the long-term financial security of the club.
Shiels has always had a desire to develop young players – that's why he was the ideal man for the Northern Ireland under-17s whom he led to the European Championship finals in France in 2004.
Shiels said: "We brought nine teenagers into the Kilmarnock team since Christmas.
"There were six or seven in the squad at a time because we had agreed to concentrate on development, but that has been at a price. Young players make mistakes, but the future stability of the club is in young players.
"We had the smallest wage budget in the SPL – comfortably the smallest – the club is massively in debt and we were trying to clear that by developing players and selling them on.
"I know I've done a good job, but there was a change of plan."