Vincenzo Montella says he wasn't expected to be fired from his post at AC Milan before being dismissed on Monday.
The Serie A side were held to a 0-0 draw with Torino at home on Sunday to leave them in seventh place on the standings, some 18 points adrift of league leaders Napoli.
Milan have won just six of their 14 games played this term, prompting a change of management, which came as a shock to Montella, who was hired as the club's head coach in June 2016.
Montella led the Rossoneri to Supercoppa Italiana success, with the defeat of Juventus, and a sixth-place finish in his first season.
But after signing an extension to his deal in May, the club have now decided to cut ties with the former Sampdoria boss.
? Here is our new ?⚫ boss, Gennaro Gattuso, leading his debut training session at Milanello
? Ecco gli highlights del Gattuso-day al Centro Sportivo di Milanello ?⚫#weareacmilan pic.twitter.com/edHB6UhOSw
— AC Milan (@acmilan) November 28, 2017
He told Gazzetta dello Sport: "I was calm and I didn't suspect anything, I swear. I was ready for training as always, on a normal day like any other.
"The timing [surprised me most] – there were other times where it would have been more plausible. This time the team was giving answers, both technically and in terms of temperament.
"When I arrived at Milanello [Milan's training base], I was greeted by [Giuseppe] Mangiarano, our secretary general, who came with me to see the [sporting] director. Then [Massimiliano] Mirabelli told me they'd made the decision in the night.
"I think it was a choice made more by the owners than by the directors."
Montella added: "The expectations were raised too high. As Milan coach I won 33 games out of 64 [matches], so 50 per cent between the league and the cups.
"After that I certainly remember the win in the Supercoppa Italiana, the return to Europe and finishing first in the group to go through.
"These were results Milan had been missing for several years and we all shared in them.
"There's no culprit, though. In fact, the group is to be defended because there are no slackers, everyone wanted to grow and follow me."
Primavera youth team coach Gennaro Gattuso has since been installed as the club's new first team manager.