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Michael Appleton - Manager of Portsmouth Football Club November 2011 - November 2012

November 8, 2012 

' Appleton Departure inevitable ' - Trevor Birch (administrator)

Portsmouth administrator Trevor Birch says Michael Appleton's exit as manager was inevitable because of the circumstances he had to work under.

Appleton was named Blackpool boss on Wednesday after 12 months at Pompey. In that time he saw the club's owner arrested, Pompey go into administration and later be relegated while also selling his entire squad.

"It is disappointing but understandable given the situation we are in," Birch told BBC Radio Solent.

Appleton had been linked with a string of jobs over the past few weeks including Bolton and Blackburn while he was also interviewed twice at Burnley.

Portsmouth have been in administration since February and are currently in the process of a takeover by the Pompey Supporters' Trust - who have been vying with Balram Chainrai for the club.

The former West Brom coach was forced to sell all his senior squad in the summer and build a team of loanees, youth-team members and out of contract players. It had been a difficult introduction to management for Appleton, but Birch believes he performed admirably in the circumstances.

"There has been a lot of interest in Michael over the past few weeks with the various managerial vacancies," added Birch. "It is not altogether surprising that he has left but still disappointing and just another hurdle for us to get over.

"It was very difficult for Michael and not the job he signed up for so you have to have some sympathy there. "In very difficult circumstances he did a good job. Just putting a team together for the new season was in itself a difficult challenge "To lose all the squad he initially inherited was obviously very difficult for him."

Pompey who are around £61m in debt received compensation for Appleton but reports Blackpool paid £200,000 for the 36-year-old are wide of the mark. "There was compensation, it was helpful but it doesn't make any difference to the overall scheme of things as the numbers are huge," added Birch.

Guy Whittingham will take charge of the team as caretaker manager on Saturday, but the club will not be able to appoint a permanent manager until they come out of administration and are taken over by the PST

Names that have already been linked to the permanent role at Fratton Park include Whittingham, Andy Awford, Lee Bradbury and Stuart Gray

Appleton's year at Fratton Park

Played: 51 Won: 13 Drawn: 11 Lost: 27

    November: Appointed Portsmouth manager.
    December: Chairman Vladimir Antonov resigns from the club. Owners Convers Sports Initiatives enter administration.
    January: The Pompey Supporters' Trust launch a bid to buy the stricken club.
    February: Portsmouth enter administration and are docked 10 points. Thirty staff including chief executive David Lampitt are made redundant.
    March: Appleton vows to "fight on until the end" as the club look close to being liquidated.
    April: Administrators of the club reveal debts of £58m and make several more staff redundant. Pompey are later relegated from Championship.
    May: Former Portsmouth owner Balram Chainrai makes an offer to buy the club.
    June: The PST open talks with administrators of the club as Appleton starts fire-sale of all senior players.
    July: Appleton takes a youth team and unsigned players on pre-season tour of Gibraltar. Football League announce a further 10-point deduction
    August: Liam Lawrence becomes the last senior player to leave Pompey.
    September: Pompey earn their first League win in League One.
    October: The PST are named 'preferred bidders' of the club. Appleton is linked to jobs at Burnley and Bolton.
    November: Leaves Portsmouth for Blackpool shortly before his one-year anniversary after Pompey lose their 4th game on the trot..

Appleton departs for Blackpool

Wednesday November 7, 2012 6:00 PM
Blackpool Football Club, Blackpool, Lancashiire, England  (map)

Blackpool Football Club are delighted to announce the appointment of Michael Appleton as the club's new manager.

The 36-year-old, who has spent the past 12 months managing on the south coast with Portsmouth FC, has agreed a one-year rolling contract at Bloomfield Road.

Appleton, who started his professional career as a midfielder at Manchester United, retired from the game at the age of 27 due to injury. He has since embarked on a career in coaching and previously worked with Roy Hodgson and Roberto Di Matteo at West Bromwich Albion.

Joining Appleton in the move from Fratton Park will be Ashley Westwood, who has been named as First Team Coach.

Published on Monday 22 October 2012     Portsmouth 3 Shrewsbury Town 1

Michael Appleton stood there, visibly emotionless as he surveyed the Fratton Park pitch. Ringing in his ears were jubilant Pompey fans and another rendition of the ‘Aye, aye, Appy’ song which has become such a favourite in recent times.

Victory over Shrewsbury made it 13 points from a possible 15 after Pompey temporarily plunged into the League One relegation zone. Izale McLeod, once a much-maligned figure so prematurely in his south coast career, has scored in five successive matches and now has nine overall for the season. Meanwhile, the Pompey Supporters’ Trust are tantalisingly on the verge of taking ownership – a prospect which prompted a late rush for Saturday tickets. Dare it be said but times are changing at the Blues – hopefully, at last, for the better.

Then there is Appleton himself. The figurehead of the football club for the past 11-and-a-half months and now an in-demand manager. t is highly rare for Pompey bosses to have songs created in tribute of them, yet his is these days common place at every fixture.

Come Saturday’s final whistle, the 36-year-old waited patiently for his players to leave the pitch, greeting every one with either a handshake or pat on the back. Next it was the turn of the referee and his officials, politeness and respect personified.Then he turned, applauded the Fratton end and then those still present in the south stand, before making his way down the tunnel.

It certainly was not milked as a farewell, the tears were not wiped away from the eyes. It was unquestionably an understated moment. Yet Pompey’s next fixture at Fratton is on the weekend of November 3-4, when they take on Notts County in the FA Cup. It remains to be seen if Appleton is still around to lead his team out for that one or whether elsewhere occupies his interest.

Admirers Burnley have, interestingly, announced they aim to make an appointment within the next week. Appleton remains high on the Championship club’s shortlist and has done little to distance himself from the position during the past week.

Of course, Pompey fans have long appreciated his honesty and straight talking during an era of worthless promises from the majority in authority. Intriguingly, he has largely embraced the constant Turf Moor speculation. It has represented a badge of honour rather than a millstone around his neck. For somebody who has spent nearly a year craving stability to enable him to manage, the potential lure of Burnley must surely be obvious.

The Trust’s anticipated arrival represents the dawning of a new era, but few would welcome such fresh beginnings without the iconic Appleton. Particularly with results now starting to roll in and the table climbed during what has been an impressive past five league matches for the Blues. Granted, there were the odd few howling for his head following defeat against Wycombe in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. It was a competition often deemed as an irrelevance yet, suddenly, was important enough for some to dismiss the manager over.

Overall, though, the overwhelming majority of Pompey fans want the former West Brom coach to remain at the front to lead them into this brave new world.

Friday 19 October 2012  Michael Appleton has claimed it would take a ‘hell of an offer’ to tempt him away from Pompey. And the in-demand Blues boss has reiterated there has still not been an official approach in his services from either Burnley or Bolton.

The 36-year-old cut a relaxed figure yesterday amid on-going interest from the Championship sides. The News understands he remains high on the Clarets’ short-list, while Bolton have also considered him. In the meantime, Appleton has shrugged off such talk and is focusing on tomorrow’s visit of Shrewsbury.

He said: ‘The way things stand, until a football club comes in and says to Trevor “can we have permission to speak to Michael” then nothing is going to happen. ‘I have stuck around for 11-and-a-half months, so it would take one hell of an offer and one hell of a football club to prise me away.

‘In the summer I was looking forward to what hopefully was going to be a really good season. ‘It was going to be a season where we had a competitive budget and I could bring some top-quality players to the club and go up straight away. The scenario we are in now is the opposite end of the scale to what I thought it was going to be. ‘But we have still got to focus, we still have a goal. ‘I’m making sure I’m keeping myself busy to distract any distractions. ‘I love being out on the training pitch. For me that is the best place to be. ‘It can be difficult at times because people try to turn your head.

‘It’s like anything in life, you have been given a compliment that someone else is supposedly interested in your services, so you are doing something right. ‘As a player you get it quite a lot, whatever level you are playing at. This is now the first experience I have had of it as a manager.  But as soon as you start patting yourself on the back and get carried away, football has got a great way of slapping you in the face.’ Appleton has been linked with the Burnley job since Eddie Howe left for Bournemouth on Friday. Mick McCarthy, Sean Dyche and Nick Barmby have also been linked with a move to Turf Moor.

Appleton, though has denied the on-going speculation over his future is affecting his side in the build-up for Shrewsbury. He added: ‘It doesn’t seem to be affecting the players. There is the usual banter they give me and have been giving me for a week or so. ‘It’s a bit of stick like “where were you last night?” and all that type of stuff. ‘That is helpful, that is good. It means they are in a good place. ‘So it has been quite enjoyable. It has actually lightened the situation even more from what’s going on off the field. ‘They have something else to concentrate on.’


Crystal Palace enter the fray for Michael Appleton - the Palace view

Time for the next in our series of potential new managers. Here's Tom Wellman who wants Pompey's Michael Appleton as the new Eagles gaffer.

Since his arrival into full-time management, Michael Appleton’s burgeoning reputation and charisma has marked him out as the Championship’s wanted man amidst the managerial departures at Blackburn, Ipswich and Palace. His spell in charge of a troubled Portsmouth side has been shrouded in difficulty yet he remains one of the exciting, fledgling managers in the Football League.

He’s overseen a miserable year at Fratton Park but Appleton has endeared himself to fans and media alike largely thanks to his brutal honesty and consistent integrity shown in times of severe worry. Appleton has endured administration, a familiar feeling at Palace, and is now beginning to bring wins to a team devoid of any sort of budget.

The general consensus across the footballing oasis is that Appleton’s likeability is the chief contributing element to his high profile, rather than his tactical nous. Whilst possibly agreeable, the situation Appleton has been forced to endure has resulted in an entire overhaul of the squad which suffered relegation last season. Already this season Pompey has fielded 31 players; very few of whom played at all prior to joining in the summer. He has sifted through enough players to fill a rugby squad and recently guided Pompey to 4 wins in their last 6 games. Whether Appleton’s orders of a 4-4-2 formation are suitable for the game ahead, simply winning at all with the deck of cards at his disposal is impressive enough.

Appleton’s position at Portsmouth makes comparison challenging and therefore uneasy to judge whether he is capable of handling a stable side. However, Appleton accumulated 31 points in the Championship last season – the exact amount that Dougie managed here during the same time. Mind you, we did have to deal with a draining cup run as opposed to the serious issues of bankruptcy.

Simultaneously, Appleton has been left with no option but to implement raw youngsters into the side to field a full XI. Albeit his choice or not, Appleton has readily turned to youth this season, playing Adam Webster and Ashley Harris regularly despite their ages of just 17 & 18 respectively. Previously academy coach too at West Brom, Appleton has ample knowledge of the effectiveness a strong youth system can have on a team, which is why he would make a perfect candidate for Steve Parish to monitor.

Under his guidance, players such as Kyle de Silva, Kwesi Appiah and Reise Allasani could prosper as previous generations have done at Palace. You would feel that Appleton could slot straight into the system that has become an integral part of the current Palace squad. If our own youth isn’t enough then Appleton has a wealth of contacts ready to delve into. He’s worked under Roy Hodgson and Roberto di Matteo at West Brom, gaining valuable experience from two wise heads, both of whom can recommend astute signings or loanees.

Finally, Appleton is a fighter. A serious knee injury curtailed his career, increasing his desire to succeed in management. His defiance to Pompey’s woes earned respect from many and his likeability will soften the blow of being let down by the formerly-popular Dougie. Here at Palace, fighters have been revered and their values adored. Much maligned former bosses Dowie and Warnock were both of the ilk and enjoyed modest success at Selhurst.

Appleton has been a shrewd appointment for the Portsmouth faithful, who fondly think of him as their shining light. Often seen interacting closely with the Supporter’s Trust, it is thought that Appleton’s principles would be upheld at a club like Palace where the fans are enormously involved during matchdays.

He’s recently stated that he wants to continue to rebrand Portsmouth from the bottom upwards but if the past week has taught us anything it is that talk is cheap. Money matters and a consistent wage at a Championship club currently 4th in the league could sway his mind should Parish wave a contract under his nose.


April 28, 2012   Appy Eyes Fresh Blood by Mark Storey

Michael Appleton believes just one or two of Pompey’s players will still be at Fratton Park next season. The Blues boss is planning a mass overhaul ahead of next season’s League One campaign.  The Pompey side that runs out for the first game of the 2012/13 season promises to be unrecognisable from the one that lost 2-0 at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

Appleton needs to bring in transfer fees and slash the wage bill. But he also wants fresh blood. He said: “I would be very surprised if there are more than one or two players still here at the club next season. It could be as big as 17 or 18 players leaving the football club and the same number coming in. It’s going to be a tough, tough, summer with a lot of hard work.”  Jason Pearce and Greg Halford were at the City Ground with their team-mates but were not part of the squad.

As well as 18-year-old Ashley Harris in the starting line-up, Pompey had four teenagers – Alex Grant, Jed Wallace, Sam Magri and Adam Webster – on the bench. Appleton said: “There are agreements in place with various clubs over Greg and Jason that they wouldn’t play the game, which we had to abide to, because we need to recoup the money for their services.

“Bejani, Dave Kitson and Kanu didn’t travel to the game. Their future has to be away from Fratton Park, or this football club won’t be able to survive, it’s as simple as that. They have known that for a long, long time.  “Those youngsters I included in the squad will certainly be on the fringe of the squad next year, but there will also be a lot of new faces. Hopefully I can build and mould a squad for those fanatical fans to be proud of.”

Pompey matched Forest until Dexter Blackstock scored 20 minutes from time. The striker added a second in the 89th minute.
Appleton said: “There was nothing in the game. We just had one lapse in concentration from a young player, Ashley Harris, who is going to have a great future at the football club, that cost us for their first goal.
“But the bulk of the half-chances probably fell to us. It was important that the players applied themselves, and they did that.
“The fans were amazing again and are going to play a massive part in this football club trying to get back where it was.”


April 8,2012

Michael Appleton has laid down his youthful blueprint for Pompey and promised: This is the future. The Blues boss has vowed to continue with his overhaul of the squad – focusing on young energy and hunger – regardless of what division his men are in next season. The 36-year-old has made it clear he sees his role continuing with the club he arrived at in November, despite their incessant problems.He insisted the way forward for them is with a heavy accent on youth.

The ex-West Brom assistant manager has already brought players such as Karim Rekik, 17, George Thorne, 19, Luca Scapuzzi, Scott Allan, both 20, Kelvin Etuhu and Chris Maguire, both 23, to the club. That’s on top of using homegrown teenage talents Ashley Harris, 18, Adam Webster, 17, and giving Marko Futacs, 22, an extended run of games.

He called on Pompey fans to show patience with the policy, which he believes can reward the club for years to come.

Appleton said: ‘They are young lads and this is a young team. ‘If Portsmouth Football Club is to get anywhere near where it has been in the past six or seven years they are going to have to be patient and stick with young players. ‘They are the ones who are going to take them back up again. ‘My point is this is the way we now have to look as a club.

‘We have learned our lessons – big time – and I think it is going to cost us big time, whatever happens to our league status. ‘It’s the way Portsmouth has to go.‘We have to build for the future now, whether we are in the Championship or not. ‘This is still the route we have to go down. We have to look to the future. ‘Hopefully, I’ll be backed to be able to do that.

‘That’s the vision. I’ve said it from day one. ‘When I arrived I looked at the squad and it had 18 names in it – 10 of them were 30-plus.‘There were not enough players and the balance was all wrong. ‘If I’m given the tools to do it – and a level playing field to work on – that is what we are going to see from Portsmouth for the next two or three years and beyond.’

Appleton believes he is starting to see the kind of character he is looking for from his squad after recruiting a string of youngsters amid Pompey’s financial woes. He pinpointed fire and desire as the traits he wants to see from his men. The Blues boss said: ‘What you might be starting to notice is we have got some young players and they have got some personalities. ‘They get angry with each other as well. ‘They will dig each other out if they are not doing the business. ‘These lads are 19, 20 or 21 and digging each other out and they are digging some of the senior pros out as well.

‘That is the type of character we want at the club. ‘I want to walk into that canteen at the training ground and look over my shoulder at a squad full of hungry, angry, aggressive and young footballers who are desperate to be successful.’


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