Blackpool no longer the 'right club at the wrong time' for returning Michael Appleton

Michael Appleton knows he’s returning to a completely different club to the one he managed briefly 10 years ago.

Friday, 17th June 2022, 12:19 pm
Updated Friday, 17th June 2022, 3:44 pm

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Michael Appleton returns to Bloomfield Road as Blackpool’s new head coach

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“It’s all gone quite quickly to be fair, but it’s exciting as you can imagine,” Appleton exclusively told The Gazette.

“When you leave a club at the end of the season like I did with Lincoln - and it was very amicable - you’re just looking for that next challenge.

“You don’t know where that next challenge is going to come from. There have been various vacancies over the summer and being a free agent there’s some that have excited me and some that haven’t excited me.

“If I’m being honest, up to maybe a week or so ago, I was thinking to myself ‘okay, I’m going to get around over the next couple of months and visit a few people and do a little bit of work, watching players, watching games etc’.

Appleton has returned for a second spell in the Bloomfield Road hotseat

“With Neil leaving to go to Villa it opened up this vacancy. There was a bit of contact and once interviews take place the excitement gets a bit greater.

“When you know you’ve got a real good chance of it, that’s when you begin to really focus on it.”

Derby County assistant Liam Rosenior was also in the frame and was interviewed twice by the club.

The Seasiders denied reports that emerged on Thursday evening that the 37-year-old had been offered the job, only to turn it down due to concerns over playing budget and issues with the training ground.

But the club were impressed by Appleton’s ability to coach and develop players, with the former West Brom and Preston player boasting a strong track record of selling players on for a big profit at both Oxford United and Lincoln.

While it was believed to be a close decision between Appleton and Rosenior, it was the former’s experience of managing across a range of leagues as number one that also worked in his favour.

The 46-year-old, who is due to meet the players for the start of pre-season training on Monday, can’t wait to make his return to the Bloomfield Road hotseat.

“It’s completely different to last time and that’s one thing I can say,” he said.

“I knew that was the case anyway because the club’s had success over the last couple of seasons.

“Prior to that, I actually came to a game when Simon Grayson was in charge and I remember noticing how different the vibe was. There was a buzz around the place and there were actually smiles on peoples’ faces and people were actually saying hello to me, which was a good sign!

“But in the directors’ box watching the game, the atmosphere was so, so different. I can’t actually describe what that was like compared to 10 years or so ago.

“To be able to come to the club and be back at the club now where there’s a real feelgood factor is completely different to the experience I had.”

Appleton’s first spell during the 2012/13 season lasted just 65 days, departing to join Blackburn Rovers citing frustrations working with the club’s owners at the time, the Oystons.

“It was a tough time, there was no doubt about that,” Appleton added. “I found the experience really tough and hard and something I didn’t particularly enjoy.

“It’s been well documented and I’ve done various interviews about my time.

“In many ways, it was probably the right club at the wrong time, but now it feels like the right club at the right time and I’m just really excited to get going really and pick up the baton that Neil has left behind and keep striving forward.

“Whether that’s performances, results, player sales, infrastructure, making everything bigger and better and moving in the right direction, especially with what we’ve seen with Simon, the person at the top of the tree, who is looking to take the club forward as best as he obviously can.”