Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was saddened by Jose Mourinho losing his job at Stamford Bridge.
Courtois, recalled to Chelsea by Mourinho following three seasons on loan with Atletico Madrid, excelled in the 2014-15 campaign as he helped his team-mates to glory in the League Cup and Premier League.
It has been a different story this time around, with the Belgium international enduring a three-month knee-injury absence as Chelsea’s title defence unravelled.
He was back by December for the final days of Mourinho’s managerial reign – a 2-1 defeat to Premier League leaders Leicester City standing as the last act.
“It was strange for me,” Courtois told the Daily Telegraph. “When you get injured for a long time it’s not nice because you are out of the team and not involved anymore.
“Sometimes you just go to watch training to be with the players a bit and have the feeling of being part of the group. When it’s not going well, you want to help.
“We had a wonderful season being champions, but this season has been different. I was sad when a top manager like Mourinho got sacked, but you have to move forwards.
“You cannot look to the past, you have to look forwards and we were in a bad situation so the club took a decision and, as players, we knew we had to improve.”
That improvement has arrived under interim boss Guus Hiddink and Chelsea are still yet to lose a domestic fixture since their trip to the King Power Stadium.
Nevertheless, Courtois accepts a dire start that left Chelsea hovering above the relegation zone rules out a top-four finish and Champions League qualification.
He is keen for them to focus their energies on turning around a 2-1 first-leg deficit against familiar foes Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League and beating Everton in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
“We are doing well and we can maybe move up the table, but top four is out of the question,” he added. “I think the most important is the FA Cup and the Champions League. That’s our main aim.
“It’s nice to win a trophy every season and say every year, ‘Okay I won something.’ Winning a trophy would be a good way to finish a bad season in a positive way.
“But I’m not obsessed by the fact I have to win a trophy every year – it’s a nice thing, but I know it’s sometimes impossible.”