Former Western Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney insists his fractured relationship with the players could have been repaired and has revealed he felt "crook in the stomach" when told disgruntled captain Ryan Griffen wanted to leave the club. The Bulldogs were still finalising their coaching sub-committee on Saturday, having parted ways with McCartney on Friday despite two years left on his contract. After weeks of grumblings among players and their agents over McCartney's communication skills, his position became untenable when Griffen requested a trade to Greater Western Sydney. Club president Peter Gordon has said Griffen's decision meant McCartney would have found it difficult in the future to make a tough call or have a tough conversation with a player. However, McCartney said on Saturday he felt the tense relationship with some of his players could have been eased. "I felt I could have chipped away at it," he said. "I felt it could have been [done by] restructuring the footy department and freeing me up more. "There is a real lesson in there for every footy club. The senior coach does less and less coaching than ever now, and [has] less opportunity to work one on one and build relationships with players. And that is even more important that that is in play when teams aren't winning and clubs are in a position where they are not winning as often as they would like. "There is this really simple rule: if you are not winning games, people will find something wrong with you. "That's never been any different. I have got no doubt we could have worked through a lot of things and I respect the decisions that have been made and I would like people to respect the decision I have made. "I have always believed whatever role you have got, the club comes first and what is best for the club. That is why the decision was made by myself." McCartney's strong post-season reviews of the senior players appeared to exacerbate the feeling among some that the coach was more interested in developing the club's young talent. Speaking on ABC Radio, McCartney said that "certainly wasn't on purpose". "There is no doubt in my mind [that] in the middle of the year we were getting a contribution from everyone while our young kids were playing really good footy," he said. "But there was still an enormous contribution from our senior players too. That is no secret; that is when we played our best footy. Some of the feedback was relayed to me and I am upset that it turned out that way. It certainly wasn't planned that way. "I think what I did was probably lift the expectations a bit quickly through the middle of the year. I certainly felt some frustration around some close losses and it wasn't a personal thing. It was probably a bit of annoyance that they were games we probably should have got. "We put ourselves in a position to win and didn't do it. There were probably recurring things in games that caused frustration. If I had my time again, I probably would have had less to say in reviews and more to say one on one with players and more one-on-one interaction with aligning people's behaviours back with the team." McCartney said he suspected a week after the season finished that Griffen was considering his future at the club. He was with list manager Jason McCartney on Thursday when Griffen confirmed his intentions, setting in motion what would prove to be a "hornet's nest". "It makes you feel a little crook in the stomach when you hear that and then [that] set the wheels in motion and we arrive at where we are today," the former Bulldogs coach said. However, McCartney had thought an earlier meeting he had held with Griffen and football director Chris Grant may have salvaged the relationship. "I did," he said. "I probably still thought he was dealing with a few things in relation to his relationship with me, the captaincy and [I] think he reached a point in his career where he looked and, like everyone, thought, 'How much time have I got left, what's around me and what' coming up underneath me?'. "It's been well documented that we have had that gap in our list, through the middle 20s, for a while now. I think that caused him a bit of apprehension, but it sounds like, in reflection, he has had other things on his mind and that has unfolded this week. I understand that – that's the modern game, that's footy, people are looking for the new frontier." McCartney said he was aware there had been "continual doubts" among club chiefs over whether he was the right man to "take the group forward". "That's how I read it without being given every minute detail," he said. "That was my gut feel – that I had some doubts about whether I was the right bloke to take them forward or they were a group that was prepared to go forward with me." Gordon said he still would like Griffen to remain at the club, but the veteran midfielder maintained he still wanted to leave. McCartney's senior assistant Brett Montgomery, Collingwood assistant Scott Burns and North Melbourne assistant Leigh Tudor are possible candidates to replace McCartney, while Mark Thompson could be sounded out, with doubts about whether the Gold Coast Suns, also on the hunt for a senior coach, are interested in him.