Oxford United’s players suspected Chris Wilder’s time as manager was coming to an end before Saturday’s 1-0 win over Torquay United.
The 46-year-old informed the squad minutes after the final whistle that it was likely to have been his final game in charge.
But the speculation over a link to Northampton Town, which had been building since last Thursday, had clearly made an impact.
David Hunt admitted the players suspected something was about to happen when Wilder gave his pre-match instructions.
He said: “I think we could tell with the way the gaffer was before the game.
“He seemed very emotional, which was why it was good we got the three points for him to leave with.
“If in his head he had made the decision, it’s going to be hard to take a team talk as normal.
“There were a lot of lads he has been with for four or five years.
“It’s his project and I guess it would’ve been hard to walk away.”
The full back felt the scene afterwards, which included injured captain Jake Wright on a stretcher, was dramatic.
He added: “It was mixed because we had just won the game. We had our skipper, who was injured, and everyone was worried about that.
“Then the manager let us know. It was an emotional day for some and one that will be remembered, for sure.
“I want to thank him for bringing me in and giving me the opportunity here.”