Blackburn defender Bradley Orr admitted relegation was the worst thing to have happened to him during his career but said the dressing room still supports manager Steve Kean.
A 1-0 defeat by Wigan on Monday night sent the Ewood Park club down to the Championship with one game of the Premier League season still to play.
It was a miserable night for Blackburn as fans protested against Kean and club owners Venky's, with the future of the Scot far from certain despite him insisting he will fight on.
Orr, a January signing from QPR, confessed he was feeling low after relegation, but his support of Kean remains strong.
"It's very tough, a real bitter pill to swallow - the worst I've had to deal with in my career," Orr said.
"It's not through lack of effort but we fell short as a group of players, and it's resulted in relegation.
"I can't put my finger on why, it's really hard to take."
Kean has been under pressure for a large part of the season with regular protests by fans against owners Venky's and the club's poor performances.
However, Orr revealed the way Kean has handled himself calls for a great deal of respect.
"The gaffer stood out there tonight and took a lot of stick, I've got nothing but admiration and respect for him," Orr said.
"He's done everything he could to push us in the right direction and motivate us.
"The tactics, training, everything - one man who can look in the mirror and say he's given everything is the manager.
"I'll speak for the dressing room and thank him for what he's done, he's taken things on the chin that he shouldn't have had to.
"The supporters voice their opinions in whatever way they want towards the owners, the players and the manager. Sometimes a line can be crossed and the way the gaffer's handled things is exemplary.
"He's certainly the best I've worked with as far as managers go.
"It's easy for people to pass the buck but the reality is the group of players fell short, it's us that need to take responsibility. We've let the gaffer down because everything he's done has been geared to pushing us forward and we haven't done that."
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