Sebastian Larsson said he never thought Birmingham City would be relegated because he has been so impressed with how manager Alex McLeish and his backroom team have led the club since their arrival.
Larsson has been one of Blues’ most consistent performers throughout the season and the popular Sweden international midfielder certainly didn’t look out of his depth in the Premier League after leaping to prominence on loan at St Andrew’s from Arsenal last season when Blues gained promotion.
But now Larsson and his colleagues must endure at least another season at Championship level and, according to the Swede, they only have themselves to blame.
"We win as a team and we lose as a team, and we have to take the responsibility," he said. "Ever since the new management team has come in they have been great. It felt like we were moving in the right direction all the time.
"At the end of the day it is the players who should take responsibility. I don’t think the manager should take responsibility, it is down to us. I think most players would agree that it has been great under the manager but obviously we haven’t been good enough on the pitch."
Larsson accepted he didn’t know what the future had in store for him and even the prospect of playing in the European Championships for Sweden could not lift his spirits.
"What can I say? I am completely devastated we have gone down," a dejected Larsson said after the 4-1 victory over Blackburn proved pointless as wins for Fulham and Reading condemned them to the drop.
"We had a decent performance today but we knew before it might not matter and it didn’t. I am gutted. We haven’t picked up enough points away from home and I know we won today but we have drawn too many at home.
"At home we have given anyone a game, and today we have looked really comfortable, playing some decent stuff and scoring goals. I don’t know why that is and if we knew we would have changed it some time ago. We have conceded too many sloppy goals as a team. I think that has been the major point.
"We weren’t aware of what was happening elsewhere but towards the end we kind of knew because of the reaction of the crowd. It is just a terrible feeling.
"At the moment, my personal performances this season or the fact I broke into the Sweden side doesn’t make me happy. I suppose it shows I am moving in the right direction, but it is so disappointing being relegated."
Larsson, who Blues will undoubtedly receive bids for during the summer, believes Birmingham can bounce back at the first opportunity as long as McLeish is allowed to keep his best players and add to his squad.
"We can definitely bounce back but at the moment we are not thinking about that because we are so disappointed," he said.
"It really feels we have been going in the right direction. It may sound strange to the fans but that is how it feels. The players have been really happy with how it has gone since the managers came in.
"We have to take responsibility for not keeping the club up. We have to make sure we come back stronger and make sure we bounce straight back.
"It is important we keep our best players because the more good players you have the better chance you have of coming straight back up.
"The club showed two years ago that it is something we are well capable of doing. If we can make sure we can come straight back up and have a more stable season on and off the pitch, then the club has a lot of potential.
"We are all massively disappointed now, and we will be for some time, but sooner or later we have to put it behind us."