Alan Pardew admitted he stripped Jonny Evans of the West Bromwich Albion captaincy in order to make a statement after off-field antics marred the build-up to the Baggies' 2-1 FA Cup defeat to Southampton.
The visitors went 2-0 up through goals from Wesley Hoedt and Dusan Tadic and despite Salomon Rondon's superb volley, the Baggies missed a host of chances to claw themselves level.
Gareth McAuley was handed the captain's armband after Evans, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill apologised after a taxi was stolen outside a restaurant during the squad's mid-season break to Barcelona.
"I thought it was important to make a stand and I thought it was important because of the incident to go with my strongest team and I decided to do that," Pardew explained. "But I felt I needed to make a little bit of a statement about the events because I was far from happy over them and make Gareth captain today.
"I think the most important thing is if I look at the time I’ve spent here, all over the Christmas period I cancelled everything I think, we hadn’t done anything really socially. The guys professionally and their timekeeping and everything has been spot on. We’ve had this one crazy evening and it doesn’t really reflect the professionalism and the work that we do as staff and as players and that’s massively disappointing of course."
Pardew felt his side were unlucky as they slipped to a two-goal deficit that proved too much to overcome despite numerous chances.
"We were so unlucky to go 2-0 down, that was probably one of our best periods and they broke up the other end and got a second goal," said Pardew.
"That still didn’t defeat our objective in terms of our mentality, it was a great goal we scored and we had two or three chances and they had a little bit of luck to keep it out."
Missed chances the story of WBA's season
The hosts hit the bar through Ahmed Hegazi whilst some stubborn defending from the Saints saw a number of efforts blocked off the line. Jay Rodriguez also saw his effort saved by Alex McCarthy when Dale Stephens' error allowed him to go through one-on-one.
Discussing the missed chances, Pardew explained: "That’s been the story of our season really, particularly since I’ve been here. First half I thought we looked a little bit edgy and Southampton did well in that period.
"Second half was a lot better, showed a lot more confidence and a lot more guile and energy too, there might have been a little bit of nerves before the game but I thought our fans were terrific today. They stayed with us and I will thank them publicly for doing that."
When questioned as to whether the midweek revelations had any influence on the result, Pardew replied: "No not really, I thought Southampton were good at manoeuvring the ball and restricting you from pressure, that’s one thing they are good at and they kept it away from us. We was a little bit nervous in terms of taking the game to them, but I thought as they game went on we got better.
"There was a lot of positives to come out of today, (James) McClean, Salomon and Jonny Evans under the circumstances, to be put in at left-back today I thought he played well. We showed at set plays we are going to be a threat all season and it was from those really that you thought we might get the second goal."
Despite the FA Cup loss and their lowly league position, Pardew remained confident he can turn West Brom's season around and achieve safety.
The former Crystal Palace and Newcastle boss said: "I’m an experienced manager, experienced this situation times before, once I have been relegated but I’ve got out of this situation before, at Newcastle and at Crystal Palace and I want to get out of this one as well, I’m determined to get out of it.
"I thought today there was some good things and we need to take that into the next game, we know the atmosphere will be slightly different I think next week, I think our fans know how important it is, I’m hoping the stadium will be super positive and we can get that win that they really desperately want."