MICHAEL Appleton wants his players to have pride in their Blackpool shirt as he showed them his ruthless side on Saturday.
The boss sent out a huge message to his squad by substituting Elliot Grandin on 28 minutes and fellow midfielder Ludo Sylvestre at half-time in Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with Watford.
Blackpool found themselves two goals down after a shocking start at Bloomfield Road.
But Appleton made bold decisions, which resulted in a last-minute leveller by Isaiah Osbourne to secure a third straight draw since he replaced Ian Holloway as Pool boss.
Explaining the early changes, Appleton said: “I want people to have respect when they have the shirt. They shouldn’t want to let their shirt go. Hopefully that will come out over the next few months.
“Taking someone off so early is not something I’d normally do but something needed to happen. We started the game really slowly and got punished. I could probably count on one hand the number of times Watford were in our box. They weren’t really in the game but we conceded two goals. That’s disappointing.
“Something had to give and I just thought bringing Tiago (Gomes) on would give us some impetus in the middle of the park.”
The Seasiders looked a totally different side after the break. They created 17 chances to Watford’s four and probably deserved to win the game in the end.
And Appleton was delighted with the response. He added: “The second-half performance was probably as good as I’ve been involved in as a manager. It’s just a pity we didn’t start the game that way.
“The biggest challenge we need to sort out is the way we have been starting games.
“It’s one thing losing a goal but it’s the manner we lost that first goal.
“We worked all week on defending counter-attacks because we knew that’s the way they play.
“Then we conceded off a set-piece, even though it was well offside, and that was very disappointing indeed. We gave ourselves a real mountain to climb. We probably had 90 per cent possession in the second half and got the point we deserved in the end.”
Appleton handed a late debut to new signing Wes Thomas.
The striker, signed last Thursday on loan from Bournemouth until January, looked lively and seemed to impress his new boss.
Appleton said: “Wes is a player desperate for an opportunity to prove he can play at this level. He’s spent most of his career at a lower level but he has hunger in his eyes. He’s desperate to do well.
“I took hime to Portsmouth and he did really well for me. I’m sure he’ll be a good addition to the squad in the coming months.”