Brad Walker is confident Hartlepool United have the “quality” bounce back from the devastation of League Two relegation.
The 21-year-old was one of the few Pools players who came out of the club’s relegation to the National League with any semblance of credit, having performed admirably for the cause, out-of-position at centre-half.
But that endorsement is no comfort for the Billingham lad, who has come through the youth ranks at the Vic.
He is devastated that Pools season ended the way it did, although he believes a negative approach moving forward, both on and off the field, will not benefit anyone.
“We have got to look at it from a different point of view,” he said.
“It is football. We have to bounce back.
“We are absolutely gutted. The lads gave our all for the cause.
“There is nothing we can do now. This is football - it’s sometimes how it goes.
“We really didn’t think at the start of the season that we’d be a National League side at the end of it.
“But we have got the quality to kick on and come back from this.”
After the pain of last weekend and the stark reality of the days that have followed, blame has been adminstered in various directions.
Some have pointed the finger at Gary Coxall, others Dave Jones and the players. Few have come out of this clean.
Walker knows who he blames for relegation. He said: “We have let ourselves down. We have under-performed.
“We have lost games we should never have lost.
“We have not been able to see games out. This needs addressing next season.
“Maybe if decisions [the appointment of interim boss Matthew Bates] were made earlier we might have had a chance but that’s football.
“They have been brilliant from start to finish.
“I genuinely think if it was done a bit sharper we would not be in this mess.”
Bates is one of the candidates for the job vacated by last month’s departure of Jones.
Former skipper and assistant boss, Sam Collins, has seen his odds tumble while Craig Harrison, who has won six consecutive Welsh Premier titles with TNS, remains favourite.
Ex-Grimsby manager Marcus Bignot is also seen as a front runner with Gary Brabin, who managed Tranmere in the National League last season, has come into the frame.
So too former Mansfield boss, Paul Cox, who guided Barrow to seventh place in the division this season.