Appleton ready for new era at Pool

Michael Appleton
Michael Appleton
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MICHAEL Appleton says he can’t wait to start work at Bloomfield Road.

The former Portsmouth boss was unveiled as the new Blackpool manager last night after days of speculation.

Pool moved quickly to fill the gap left by Ian Holloway, who left for Championship rivals Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The 36-year-old Appleton was the Seasiders’ number one target, and only negotiations with Portsmouth over compensation delayed the deal.

And after being shown around Bloomfield Road, he told The Gazette he’s delighted to be here.

Appleton said: “To be given the opportunity to take over a side who have been very successful is great.

“The quicker I can get working with the players, and bringing some things I think I can bring to the football club, the better.”

Appleton has worked his way up the coaching ladder after injury forced him to retire from football at the age of 27. He arrives at Bloomfield Road following three years of unbelievable success under Holloway.

While Holloway’s second-in-command Steve Thompson will retain his role as assistant manager, Appleton has brought Ashley Westwood with him from Pompey as first-team coach.

And although he realises the size of the task facing him, Appleton is not fazed.

He admitted: “I think there is pressure on me. Ian’s are obviously big boots to fill here.

“The staffing that’s in place will help. Thommo staying will be a big boost.

“I’m bringing Ashley Westwood with me, who I think will be very important too.

“I think we’ve got a good balance and hopefully that little bit of continuity will help.”

Appleton meets his new players this morning at their Squires Gate training ground.

He will spend most of today getting to know his squad, before taking full charge tomorrow ahead of Saturday’s home derby against Bolton.

He added: “I can’t wait to meet all the lads and have a chat.

“I’m sure they are all buzzing after a good win against Sheffield Wednesday.

“I’ve spoken to Thommo already, and I’m sure he’s prepared certain things he wants to do in training in the run-up to the game on Saturday.

“I’m not going to make massive changes to that. I’ll be an observer on Thursday before getting stuck in on Friday. We will talk about the team.

“There would be a few who would be upset if they weren’t in the team after a good win, but those are discussions we’ll have.”

Appleton took up a coaching role at West Brom after a knee injury forced him to retire there at only 27.

He rose quickly through the ranks at the Hawthorns, working as assistant manager under Roberto Di Matteo and Roy Hodgson.

He got his big break at Portsmouth almost exactly 12 months ago, though financial problems forced him to sell almost his entire squad.

Salford-born Appleton came through the youth system at Manchester United before spending four years at Preston North End, and he fits the bill perfectly at Blackpool as one of football’s brightest young managers.

He told The Gazette that issues at Fratton Park made his job there almost impossible.

“It would literally make people’s eyes water, some of the stuff that’s gone on down there,” he said.

“I had to put a team together less than 48 hours before the opening game of the season. That was a bit of a challenge, to say the least. Having players on month-to-month contracts and only having 20 players was difficult.

It just became a situation of putting square pegs into round holes, day in, day out, week in, week out.

“It was difficult but we soldiered on and tried to do the best we possibly could.

“The opportunity to come to Blackpool – just to be a manager and just work with the players, instead of having to deal with all sorts of off-field issues – is something I can’t wait for.

Appleton has agreed a one-year rolling contract at Bloomfield Road, similar to the one Ian Holloway was tied to.

And he thinks his time at Portsmouth will help him become a better manager at Blackpool.

He said: “I think it has made me strong but only time will.

“I genuinely think the experiences we’ve had over the last 12 months will help me in the coming years.

“I’m not 37 until next month, but I feel I’ve experienced in football what a 47-50-year-old would probably have in his management career. As long as I utilise the skills I’ve picked up, then hopefully we’ll be OK.”