Appy primed to start role in earnest

Michael Appleton will run the rule over his Pompey squad from Monday Picture: Joe Pepler
Michael Appleton will run the rule over his Pompey squad from Monday Picture: Joe Pepler
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Michael Appleton is gearing up to begin his scrutiny of Pompey’s squad.

And the new Blues manager is preparing to lay his ambitions on the line to his players after running the rule over them next week.

Appleton has thrown down a top-half finish as an early marker after succeeding Steve Cotterill at Fratton Park.

But the 35-year-old is ready to deliver a more detailed assessment after getting to grips with his new staff in earnest from Monday.

The former West Brom assistant coach has been doing his homework on what has been taking place at his new club in recent weeks.

Appleton has been impressed with the work of Guy Whittingham and Stuart Gray in their temporary period in charge of the team.

Now he is ready for his era to begin – with his eagle eye trained on his players ahead of next week’s clash with Watford.

Appleton said: ‘Once I get myself firmly under the table, so to speak, I will have an idea where I think the squad can take us this year.

‘Ultimately, it’s a division where no matter where you are in the division, three or four good results will put yourself in a fantastic position.

‘I call it the yo-yo division because there are that many changes of places every week.

‘Not only that, but if you are winning games it’s not the fact you go up one or two places – you tend to go up four or five places in the table.

‘It’s important to win games, it’s important to get performances and if you get performances, the likelihood is you’re going to win games.

‘Over the past five or six games, the players have picked up some decent results, and I only hope to add to the work that has been put in already.

‘If I can add to the good work that has been put in already then we give ourselves a great opportunity.

‘I’ve seen bits of DVDs over the past five or six games. I’ll watch them again before I see the players again on Monday and then I will have a better indication of what I might be getting.

‘But when you are actually on the training field you can’t beat that. You see what players are about because it is never quite the same on DVD as when you are watching them live from the stand or the training ground.

‘That is going to take a while but I like to think I am a quick learner.’

Appleton has made it clear even a cursory inspection of the options at his disposal tells him Pompey should be higher up the Championship table than where they currently sit.

He said: ‘Everybody needs and wants to get their side into the top half of the table, and, if you look at the experience in the squad, there is no reason why that can’t happen – that’s what we are looking to do.

‘There is enough ability in the squad to achieve that so I will be making sure the players are aware of that.’