Had Michael Appleton’s name been mentioned to the average Pompey fan less than a month ago as the club started its search for a new manager, it is likely that the immediate response would have been along the lines of: ‘Michael who?’
Few supporters would have recognised him as the assistant first team coach at West Bromwich Albion and even those who did might have questioned the wisdom of putting the fortunes of Portsmouth Football Club into the hands of a man who had not yet had a permanent managerial job.
Twenty-eight days later, the picture looks a lot rosier.
The News was first to reveal that the 35-year-old had emerged as a major contender for the Fratton Park hot seat and since then we have on behalf of fans sought the views of those who know what makes Appleton tick.
A picture has emerged of a resolute young man who has instilled confidence at West Brom since his career was cut short by injury.
That devastating blow might have defeated lesser men but the forced cessation of his playing career, after a full two years of waiting and hoping that he might recover, made him a stronger man.
He overcame his anger at what had befallen him by channelling that energy into the task of rebuilding his life through coaching and the goal of management.
In the former, it is clear that he has been successful. And every friend and colleague to whom we have spoken over the past few days has no doubt success will come to him as a manager. His former boss – the hugely-respected Roy Hodgson – made that clear when he observed: ‘Our loss is going to be Portsmouth’s gain.’
Some supporters might have preferred to see a more experienced manager, but was there one realistically available who actually offered the same promise of success as Michael Appleton?
In the best traditions of the most passionate fans in English football, Pompey supporters will get four-square behind the new man (we can almost hear ‘Appy Days are Here Again booming out at Fratton Park already!). The potential is there for a new era of success. Michael who? He might be about to show us.