Curtis Davies disappointed for Chris Hughton after play-off woe
Birmingham City defender Curtis Davies says losing to Blackpool in the Championship play-offs was particularly hard on Blues manager Chris Hughton.
Despite Davies scoring in the 2-2 draw in the second leg at St Andrew's on Wednesday, it was not enough as the Blues bowed out 3-2 on aggregate.
That increases the likelihood that the sought-after Hughton might move on.
"He's a brilliant man-manager and I'm as gutted for him as much as we are for ourselves," Davies told BBC Sport.
After being signed by Alex McLeish from neighbours Aston Villa in the January 2011 transfer window, injuries restricted Davies to just seven appearances for Blues as they were relegated on the final day of last season.
But in 2011-12 he turned out in 52 of Blues' 62-match marathon campaign and he puts it down to the confidence instilled in him by Hughton.
"People have asked me if I've got better," added Davies. "I haven't got better, I've just played games.
"The manager has backed me to play and I've been an integral part of the team because of him.
"He instilled confidence back into me and that's what's enabled me to put in the performances I have.
"He's able to get the lads that aren't playing, as well as the lads that are playing, all together and pulling in the same direction.
"That's a brilliant quality to have as a manager. If you can keep the ones that aren't playing happy and on your side you must be doing something right.
"They're a brilliant group of lads and a brilliant staff. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster but just to get to the play-offs wasn't enough. We want to go that step further."
No Europa League campaign next season will mean fewer games.
Assuming Blues sort out their off-field financial affairs and hang on to Hughton, reportedly a target for more than just neighbours West Bromwich Albion, then they could have an even better chance.
"The main thing is next year there won't be as many games and hopefully it will make a big difference," added Davies.
"We just need to dust ourselves off over the next few days, come back and go again next year and see what we can do."