Appleton refuses to be too despondent

114115-688_WATFORD_POMPEY_SR_19/11/11'Action from Watford vs Pompey at Vicarage Road.'Michael Appleton watches the game from the technical area.''Picture:Steve Reid 114115-688
114115-688_WATFORD_POMPEY_SR_19/11/11'Action from Watford vs Pompey at Vicarage Road.'Michael Appleton watches the game from the technical area.''Picture:Steve Reid 114115-688
Brett Pitman was on the mark again for Pompey as they earned a draw against Walsall Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey 1 Walsall 1: Jordan Cross’ match report

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It would be harsh talking about honeymoons being over.

But Michael Appleton didn’t even get the opportunity to board the plane.

A goal conceded after 80 seconds at Watford on Saturday, an abject playing performance, a demoralising defeat and boos from the sizeable visiting following – all in Appleton’s first match as Pompey boss.

Not that he has been left dejected by that debacle against the Hornets.

What unfolded before Appleton’s eyes was the disturbing reality of the job he has been left with.

Vicarage Road provided the illumination, highlighting the deficiencies of his inherited playing squad in brutal fashion.

Yet the new Blues manager remains steadfastly optimistic over what lies in store.

After that baptism of fire, he certainly requires plenty of positive thinking to get him through.

He said: ‘I am not going to get too despondent, it’s too soon.

‘Ultimately, I have been in the building 12 or 13 days and I’m still trying to learn about all the players and what their best positions are.

‘I’m not stupid enough to start making too much of a judgement on players as individuals.

‘But what it does is give you an indication of where you can take players and how far you can push them.

‘The squad is small, and I just feel that if we can bring two or three faces in to freshen things up, what it does is provide competition for places and raises players’ performance levels.

‘Hopefully, we can do that.

‘We have got to make sure we get the right balance.

‘Sometimes you have got to make decisions to improve the balance of the team and hopefully the quality will shine through.

‘Having said that, to concede the goals we did on Saturday was a big, big disappointment.

‘I expected the performance to be better and I am sure it will be in the coming weeks.

‘There have certainly been a lot of highs and lows in the first week and I’m sure that’s going to continue.

‘I’m enjoying the job. At the end of the day, it’s a fantastic opportunity and I’m going to grasp it with both hands.

‘That was the first game of hopefully many.’

Not that Appleton had too much influence over Watford proceedings.

Having overseen just four training sessions, on Saturday it was the same system and largely the same side that was put out during the previous six matches under caretakers Guy Whittingham and Stuart Gray.

During that period, those same players collected 10 points.

Yet Appleton was disappointed in their response at conceding so early at Vicarage Road.

He added: ‘Obviously, conceding a goal after 80 seconds gives us a little bit of a mountain to climb.

‘But I did say to the players that they still had 88 minutes plus stoppage time to do something about it.

‘The problem was we didn’t show enough composure, so the longer the game went on there was no surprise about the lack of quality in terms of our attacking threat.

‘What disappointed me more than anything was the lack of quality we showed during our possession of the ball.

‘Obviously, it doesn’t help conceding an early goal but I think you can use that as an excuse at times.

‘I have spoken to the players about taking responsibility and showing a bit of composure on the ball at times.

‘It doesn’t matter if the ball is being played up to the forwards very quickly or the team are looking to press you really high.

‘I think you have got to be brave enough to stick to your own style, stick to your own plan and not get caught up in the way the opposition do it at times.

‘I don’t know whether it is playing on the players’ minds the fact they haven’t won away from home for so long.

‘That’s something we need to address.

‘Now we’ve got a game coming up at home to Leicester and we are hoping to have a little bit more energy and a little bit more quality in the final third.’