Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan admits the club's players are in shock following the sacking of manager Chris Hughton - but says the squad must stick together under his successor.
Magpies owner Mike Ashley made the decision to dismiss Hughton yesterday, despite the club lying a solid 11th in the Premier League table in their first season back in the top flight.
Martin Jol and Alan Pardew are among the frontrunners to take over at St James' Park, and Nolan admits the move has come as a major surprise to him and his team-mates.
He told The Sun: "We are all upset that Chris is going. He helped a lot of the lads here with their careers when he was a coach and then as manager.
"We will never forget our promotion from the Championship last season and we have to do what he told us. Stick together, make sure we keep the unity Chris has built up and get through this difficult period.
"It goes without saying we were shocked by the announcement."
Former Bolton midfielder Nolan also paid tribute to how Hughton conducted himself after being informed of his fate, revealing that he had wished the players well for the remainder of the campaign.
"Chris was gutted about what had happened. You could see that," Nolan continued.
"But it said so much about him that, even though he was obviously disappointed to be going, he was still telling me and Joey (Barton) that we had to make sure we had a good season.
"There was such dignity about the way he left, which is how he conducted himself while he was the manager."