The Bolton manager, a former 12 Goal Legend at Burnden Park, has spoken this week about that departure. "I had just over two very special years at a football club that I will always think the world of," he said.
"Whatever happens, it will never alter what happened in those two magnificent years and the feeling I have for the club and the people there. I accept that people are disappointed that I left and I totally understand that.
"I was the one that asked them for that passion and that desire, everything they brought as supporters to help us as a club. So I can't ask for that passion for two years and then say if you feel frustrated that I left that you can't come and give me stick."
The Bolton manager thought has been upset at comments on web site message boards, the very place where his friend Alan Nixon appears to conduct much of his business. He added: "It's like anything else, when people are on websites they are behind a computer and type what they want
"You don't even know whether these people go to the games, although I dare say we'll hear tonight the ones that do. But if you look deeper into it, my staff joined me and I never forced them, they came of their own free will and they came because it was the right decision for them as well.
"Sandy Stewart has been everywhere with me but I inherited Steve Davis, Phil Hughes and Cliff Roberts. Cliff had been at Burnley for 10 or 12 years and Steve had been captain, and they felt it was the right thing for them.
"That's what I'm trying to get over to people. It was just a footballing decision, nothing more, nothing less. But I'm pretty sure in time when people reflect on the two years we had they'll realise it was such an important part in Burnley's history.
"Anyone I've met in the street, yes they've been disappointed, but I think they've recognised the job we did. It's easy to get in a crowd or sit behind a computer, but when you speak face to face that's when you're judged on your mettle."
He comes face to face tonight with Brian Laws whose Sheffield Wednesday side put eight past the Clarets in two games last season. "I'd have taken anybody beating us twice last season to get to the Premier League," he said.
"I spoke to Brian after he got the job and wished him well, and said if I could help in any way then I'd be only too willing. Of course the Burnley players will be wanting to show me the ability, togetherness and desire that they have. Will it be an emotional night? Absolutely. But my focus will be on getting three points for Bolton Wanderers."
Brian Laws has got off to a losing start as Burnley manager. Having been beaten by Manchester United at Old Trafford we followed that up with our cup exit at Reading. Now he faces a third successive away game at Bolton.
"Everyone will tell you that you learn more about a player when you lose a game than when you win it," Laws said. "I am starting to learn what my lads are about, as people and as a team, so it's been a valuable insight.
"Looking at the performances against the teams around us so far this season, Burnley have not performed particularly well. They become fights and a battle and we have to get our tin hats on and fight. There is a war out there and there's a lot at stake for both clubs and you can't take games like this lightly.
"You don't need a big build up for this game because it's a local derby. There is a hell of a lot riding on it and we have to start taking points from the teams around us. There are a lot of ingredients to spice this one up, so it's the biggest game of the season so far.
"I believe we will have 5,000 fans there and they will be right behind the team, as they have been all season. The adrenaline will be sky high and that will be embraced by our supporters.
"The one thing the players have to be is very focused. We have to channel that aggression, upset and turmoil in the right way and play our football in the manner we are capable of.
"It needs calm heads on the pitch and off it too because we will have no chance of winning this game if we lose concentration and focus."
Speaking about the managerial changes and the Bolton boss, Laws added: "Him joining Bolton adds an extra spice into the mix. We spoke days after my appointment and we get on well.
"We might have had our little tête-à-têtes when we were talking about one of my players at Sheffield Wednesday last summer, but I was just doing my job and protecting the football club and making sure I kept my best players.
"Little arguments are part and parcel, but we have total respect for each other and that hasn't changed. I think he has been fantastic for this football club and taken Burnley into a division where they could never have dreamed of being.
"Great credit to him, however we all have to move on and as soon as the game is over we can all do that. I am sure he will want to move on as well, but he has to get over this, just as much as we have and there's no better way than getting a good result."