MARK Harris did not try to persuade Brian Pritchard to change his mind after he asked to leave his position as Witton Albion’s manager.

The 39-year-old’s departure was announced to stunned supporters on Monday, minutes after the final whistle in a 3-1 victory against Marine.

“If somebody wants to go then it’s not a good idea to prevent that from happening for long,” said the chairman.

“Brian has dedicated a large part of his life to this club, and it’s not for me to question the reasons he has given for reaching the decision he has.

“I’m as gutted as every fan, and in some ways have been caught on the hop. But Brian has made the running on this.”

Harris told the Guardian he would now focus securing a replacement before Witton play their first match in this season’s FA Cup on September 13.

The remaining members of Albion’s management team – Anthony Sheehan, Nigel Deeley and Dave Andrew – will take charge in the interim.

And Harris has not ruled out the caretaker trio becoming Pritchard’s permanent successor.

He said: “The FA Cup is a line in the sand, and we need to be in the best possible position by then to progress.

“Initially, continuity is important and we have that in those three.

“If collectively they demonstrate they can help performances improve in the way they have the past couple of games, then great.

“They’ll have an opportunity to do that.”

That does not mean a candidate from outside would be a secondary choice.

On the contrary, Harris revealed he has spent time since Thursday’s meeting with Pritchard listing the names of potential candidates.

He added: “It would be remiss of me not to be alert to every possibility.

“I’m not interested in a revolution, but an individual who shares our philosophy.

“I want a communicator, somebody capable of getting their message across.

“We also need a calm person who fits in with the structure we have already, one that’s taken time to build.”

He conceded Witton’s hopes of challenging for promotion this season have been dealt a blow by the timing of Pritchard’s exit.

Leaving after only four games, two of which ended in victory over the weekend, represents a setback for a team the now former manager has rated as talented enough to reach the Northern Premier League’s summit.

They occupy ninth position in the Premier Division ahead of Saturday’s trip to Whitby.

“We remain ambitious and will continue to aim high,” said Harris.

“Brian’s brief this year wasn’t to win promotion, but to improve on last year.”

He added that a sequence of wins in this season’s FA Cup, which would attract thousands of pounds in prize money, is a priority in the short term.

So too is reassuring the players that a project started by Pritchard, which has included the recruitment of more than half a dozen new faces, will not be left unfinished.

“There will be different reactions in the squad,” said Harris.

“But most of the signings we made during the close season are seasoned professionals who have been in this position before.

“Their task now is to demonstrate they want to stay.

“Brian told them the same thing in the changing room before he stepped down. Like me, he expects them to give whoever follows him their full support.

“That’s the only way we can move forward. If we don’t stick together, we’re in trouble.”