'That's my last game. That's me got the sack. That's life, you get on with it'
Carl Fletcher admitted it had been "a tough four years" at Plymouth Argyle when he spoke only minutes after he was sacked as manager of the struggling npower League Two club yesterday.
Fletcher, 32, spoke of his respect for the Pilgrims' owner and chairman, James Brent, and also revealed he might consider coming out of retirement as a player.
He first arrived at Home Park in February 2009, on loan from Crystal Palace, before completing a permanent move that summer. Argyle narrowly avoided dropping out of the Championship in 2008-09, but then experienced relegation in the following two seasons.
Fletcher was voted the Pilgrims' player-of-the-year in both of those campaigns. Financial mismanagement led to Argyle ending up in administration in February 2011 and Fletcher, as club captain, tried to maintain morale among his unpaid team-mates in the dressing room.
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Then, after the dismissal of Peter Reid that September, Fletcher was appointed as manager, initially in a caretaker capacity, before taking on the post permanently.
After Brent completed a successful buy-out of Argyle at the end of October 2011, he and Fletcher struck up a close working relationship.
The Pilgrims escaped relegation from League Two at the end of 2011-12 and Fletcher signed a one-year rolling contract as manager, as well as retiring as a player. Now, Fletcher is facing up to an uncertain future and Argyle are locked in another fight for Football League survival.
The former Wales international was told of his sacking by Brent immediately after the 2-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers yesterday. But, showing commendable composure and dignity, he still faced the media.
Fletcher said: "That's my last game. That's me got the sack. We will have to wait and see what the future brings."
He added: "I have got a good relationship with James and we have both been through a lot – him recently and me for the last four years since I have been here. I might be a young manager, but I'm not stupid enough to realise that if you don't win games then you don't keep your job.
"I'm obviously disappointed. Both myself and James had a good relationship and I'm sure it was a very tough decision for him, but he only has the best interests of the football club at heart."
Fletcher could have taken the easy option and skipped his post-match interview, and instead let the statement which was issued by Argyle speak for itself, but he did not do that. Asked why, he replied: "That's life, you get on with it, don't you?
"At the end of the day, it's a game of football and you have to put things in perspective. There are some really good players in that changing room and some real good characters. I wish them all the best. They are still young so they have got a real good chance in the future."
Fletcher, reflecting on his four years at Argyle, admitted: "I would like to say I look back on my time here with real happiness, but it's far from it.
"We had a couple of relegations, all the administration stuff and fighting going out of the Football League. It has been a tough four years. It's disappointing to end this way but that's life and that's football."
He continued: "It has been a real tough time, not just on the pitch but off it as well, because it affects your whole life.
"The way your life gets overtaken when you are a manager is very hard to deal with. In the time I have been here, I have learned so much about people, and myself, and how people react in different situations.
"Like I say, me and James have both been through a lot. Both of us want the best for the club and he has made the decision that getting a new manager will be best for the club."
Asked whether he would try to return to management at some point, Fletcher replied: "I don't know. Sometimes you think: 'Is it worth all the hassle, and all the stress and the late nights'?
"I will spend some time with the kids and have a bit of down time. You never know, I might even go back to playing.
"I have seen some teams in this division, and others, and sometimes I think I might be able to earn a living that way. I will go home, see the family, spend some time with them and let everything settle down."