PAT FENLON will take a short break from football and assess his options in the UK before making a decision on a possible return to management in Ireland after the Dubliner quit as Hibernian boss.
Fenlon decided to walk away in the aftermath of a disappointing League Cup defeat to deadly rivals Hearts on Wednesday night - though the Finglas native said he's been considering his position since a league defeat to Aberdeen last week - and so ended his two-year stay at Easter Road.
The ambitious 44-year-old expressed pride in the job he had done in Edinburgh, saving them from relegation and also leading Hibs to successive Scottish Cup finals and a place in the Europa League qualifiers this season.
"I'm convinced we have improved the football team," he said. "A lot of the negativity has been about me so I think it's right that I take myself out of the situation.
"The supporters' feelings are always important to me but I have no problem with them. It's their club and we are in this together but this is the right decision."
Pat Fenlon will return to Dublin in the short-term as his family were based in Ireland while he was living in Scotland, and the former Bohemians and Shelbourne boss is bound to attract interest from League of Ireland clubs as top flight sides Cork City and Derry City are looking for a new manager, but Fenlon is said to be keen to try his luck in British football again.
"Pat is very highly regarded as a manager in the UK and he won't be short of offers," said a source close to the Dubliner.
"He will speak to the players today (Saturday) as he didn't get to say goodbye to them earlier, he'll take a bit of time out and take stock, but he will be back in management again."
The Irishman moved to Edinburgh to replace Colin Calderwood in November 2011 but his reign included last year's humiliating 5-1 Scottish Cup final defeat to city rivals Hearts as well as the 7-0 Europa League qualifying setback to Malmo earlier this term.
The final straw for supporters came on Wednesday when they lost to administration-hit Hearts for a second time this season as they crashed out of the Scottish League Cup.
But Fenlon insisted it was not pressure from the fans that forced him out.
He said: "It's a very difficult decision. I've been here a little while now and I love the place really. I have to be fair to everyone and it's the right decision to make at the right time.
"Wednesday wasn't (the reason behind why I have stepped down). I'm not being funny about this, I was more disappointed about Saturday (a 2-0 defeat to Aberdeen). The players gave everything but we just didn't get the break of the ball on Wednesday.
"It's a culmination of three or four games that I wasn't happy with and now is the time to go. I'm convinced we have improved the football team. We have a real good squad and real good staff.
"I've been mulling the decision since Aberdeen and decided probably within the last 24 to 12 hours. I haven't told the players yet but I will speak to them in the morning. It will be difficult but the right thing to do.
Assistant Jimmy Nicholl will take charge for tomorrow's Scottish Premiership match at Motherwell.