Appleton’s Pompey work wins ‘admiration’ of rivals

121503_NFFC_PFC 28/4/12  Michael Appleton at the end of the match. NPower Football League match between Nottingham Forest Football Club V Portsmouth FC at Nottingham Forest.'Picture: Allan Hutchings (121503-072)

121503_NFFC_PFC 28/4/12 Michael Appleton at the end of the match. NPower Football League match between Nottingham Forest Football Club V Portsmouth FC at Nottingham Forest.'Picture: Allan Hutchings (121503-072)

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Luke Dowling has spoken of the football family’s ‘admiration’ for Michael Appleton’s Pompey work.

The Blues boss has endured a torrid time since his appointment in November 2011 – only weeks before the club’s latest crippling financial problems struck.

Pompey currently remain in administration, hampered by Football League red tape and possessing a skeleton squad of 18 players – the majority of which are on monthly contracts.

In the meantime, a run of five defeats in their past six league matches have plunged the club into the League One relegation zone.

Yet the dignity of the man who pledged his commitment to Pompey during the summer by turning down several jobs continues to impress fans and colleagues alike.

Head of recruitment Dowling has revealed how Appleton continues to earn the respect of his managerial contemporaries across the country.

And through all the turmoil, those inside the game rate his on-going Blues contribution highly.

‘There is sympathy from other clubs, especially from other managers for Michael,’ said Dowling.

‘They speak to myself, Ashley [Westwood] and Guy [Whittingham] and there’s a lot of admiration for Michael.

‘Even if these managers haven’t been through it themselves they know what he is going through.

‘They look at him and ask “how on earth are you putting out bonfires every day? How on earth are you working with 20 players and on this money and only on month-to-month contracts?”

‘Some people ask how we have managed to sign the players we have done in the situation we are.

‘That’s down to two things – the status of Portsmouth and Michael.

‘I see him coaching in training as well. With a young lad like Conor Clifford there was an improvement in him – and he won’t be the only one.

‘Brian Howard, Lee Williamson, Jon Harley, even those around the age of 30 will still improve under Michael.

‘It’s a tough job but he’s getting on with it and a lot of people in the game are recognising that.

‘There is sympathy and people say they wouldn’t like to be in our shoes – but they would all like to be manager of Portsmouth, I am sure.’

The quality of the Blues’ playing squad is often questioned by opposition clubs.

It is often perceived by those outside the city that Pompey are continuing to pay big wages.

That has been laughed off by Dowling, who is adamant it is Appleton – not cash – which is the key factor.

He added: ‘People still do think we have got money, they ask how we have these players. That is down to Michael and the club itself.

‘It’s remarkable to think we get phone calls from agents and most think Portsmouth can still pay good money. It’s fascinating, they still think Portsmouth pay stupid money. Unbelievable.

‘I’ve had an agent contact me saying “if you can get hold of this player it will cost you £300,000 and he will be on £5-6,000 a week”.

‘I’m thinking “you do know I work for Portsmouth? You do know the situation we are in?”’

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