Michael Appleton has told his unpaid Pompey troops: Remember why we used to play football.
The Blues boss leads his side to Birmingham City for tonight’s Championship showdown, with the club’s January wages still unpaid amid the ongoing financial crisis at Fratton Park.
Although ex-Pompey owner Balram Chainrai has announced his intentions to cover the wages, players and staff have not received their salaries, with the club still unable to access their frozen bank account as they wait on a validation order from the courts.
Appleton insists he has not spotted a drop in standards or motivation from his players while they wait for their pay.
But he has issued a few gentle reminders to them ahead of tonight’s tough test at St Andrew’s in a bid to keep his men at full throttle.
Appleton said: ‘At the minute, we haven’t got the validation order so, regardless of whether the money is available or not, nobody can pay the wages until the order has been seen by the court.
‘Once that’s done and once that’s lifted, then we will be able to pay wages.
‘People are respectful of the situation and they are professional people who have been around the game long enough.
‘We don’t see it as a long-term thing.
‘Some of them have been through this type of scenario before, which does help.
‘And, ultimately, we sometimes have to remember what we used to play football for.
‘We all used to play and none of us got paid a penny for it because we loved the game.
‘It’s worth giving the players a few little reminders like that and sometimes that helps to put things into perspective.
‘There are also a lot of people at the club who don’t play on a Saturday or a Tuesday night and they are not getting paid, either, but they are still turning up for work every day with a smile on their face.’
High-flying Birmingham are unbeaten in 11 matches in all competitions and are undefeated in the Championship at St Andrew’s this season.
But after Pompey’s home clash with Hull City was postponed at the weekend, Appleton believes his men can take advantage and build on the impressive 3-0 win at Peterborough in their last outing.
Appleton said: ‘Birmingham are in a rich vein of form at the moment.
‘They are a team who are scoring a lot of goals and not conceding many.
‘But we just want to make sure that we back up a decent performance at Peterborough.
‘It’s a shame we didn’t play at the weekend because everyone was desperate to play.
‘But the players should be fresh – hopefully, that will be the case.
‘I’m sure they will show the same sort of attitude and determination that they showed at Peterborough.
‘Hopefully, that will be enough to get us something from the game.’