Mixu Paatelainen's exit from Kilmarnock overshadowed the achievement of clinching a top-six finish at McDiarmid Park, says caretaker boss Kenny Shiels.
The former Finland striker left Rugby Park last week to become his country's national coach.
"It's a really big achievement," said Shiels after Killie secured their place in the top half after struggling to a 0-0 draw with St Johnstone.
"But Mixu's away and it had an adverse effect on them."
The disappointing performance in Perth has not deterred Shiels from wanting to take over from Paatelainen on a permanent basis.
"I'm interested in the job, but I feel that we can't get sidetracked," said the Northern Irishman.
Kilmarnock will play their last five fixtures against the other top five clubs when the Scottish Premier League splits into two sections.
Shiels was delighted that they had already surpassed their start-of-season goal of avoiding relegation.
"We were going to consolidate, but now that we've made the top six it's a great feeling for the lads."
Shiel thought that the condition of the pitch and Paatelainen's exit had contributed to a poor performance.
"There were contributing factors, mainly enhanced because it was so late in the week," he added.
"Mixu and I had prepared the team up to the Thursday - how we were going to play and what the team was.
"But I felt, from the first whistle, they were apprehensive in their movements and their passing and their normal flare and the invention they play with just wasn't there."