JACK ROSS apologised to travelling Dundee United fans after a nightmare in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar ending their Europa Conference League hopes with a 7-0 win.
The Tannadice boss admitted it was a bruising night for United players and staff as they went down to an record-levelling European defeat in front of 1300 away fans.
Alkmaar were rampant on their own turf with United's one-goal advantage wiped out before a further six goals were scored by the Eredivisie side.
And Ross accepts his side deserve every bit of criticism levelled at them over the defeat after receiving huge praise for the first leg result.
Speaking on BBC Scotland, he admitted: "For every plaudit and praise we received in the aftermath of last Thursday I think we deserve every bit of criticism we get on the back of that.
"We played against a good team at a tough venue but we concede six goals in 26 minutes between the first goal and the sixth one just after half-time. That's not good, irrespective of the opponent.
"So what I would say is that to always level it at me, I'm broad shouldered enough to deal with it in terms of preparation, selections choices etc. It was a tough, tough night for us.
"We didn't win fortuitously last week, I think we deserved to do so.
"It doesn't count for much; I think the opening 20 minutes we were okay, and even going behind to the first goal we obviously have the chance with Ian not long after it.
"But all the discipline we showed in our play without the ball last week we didn't do as well and we didn't deal with the period of adversary well in the first-half.
"That's something we have got to be better at, irrespective of the opponent and the venue.
"The goals from our point I think were poor in terms of some of the decision making involved in it.
"It's a sore, sore night for us. The players should feel sore, I feel sore because your pride is very much not just dented, damaged by that. But we've got to dust ourselves down and get ready for the league game on Sunday."
The 7-0 loss equaled Hibs' record loss to Malmo and Ross admitted the history books will highlight both legs of the AZ Alkmaar clash.
"I've said that to them in there," he explained. "I said every bit of praise they got last week is in the history books but so is this one.
"All they can do is effect what lies ahead and get themselves back in this competition and be better.
"It's not a night for excuses, it's a night for realism about the areas we fell short in today and it's a learning experience.
"They now realise how tough it is against the top teams. In any sort of adversity you have to learn something form it and improve yourself after it and that's what we need to do as a group.
"Heads become foggy, because as I mentioned they are a good team and when they're up and their tails are up and they're at it then it becomes easier when they're ahead in the game but we needed to be tougher in that period and get ourselves through.
"We didn't and we became ragged and loose out of possession, never mind in possession. When you do that you will bet picked off by good sides."
The United squad will fly back to Scotland tonight and Ross insists it should be a very quiet flgiht as he stated his players should feel painful after the defeat.
He added: "It should be quiet. You should have that feeling in the pit of your stomach about how that feels.
"It should give you that nauseous feeling because we're serious about what we do so when it goes like that it will be painful.
"I would also like to apologise to the travelling fans because we should be better than that and have produced better than that.
"But it will heighten their determination to get back to this level of football again but then also first and foremost produce domestic results.
"We've got a tough one on Sunday but all the messages and preparation has go tot be about that, there's no point in us dwelling on tonight now, we've got to look forward and be ready to go then."