Playing career pain has fuelled Appie’s managerial hunger

Matty Kennedy. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey 1 Southend 0: They said what

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He may be just 35, but Michael Appleton’s managerial career has already been eight years in the making.

Appleton’s time as a midfield player was cruelly cut short following a training ground injury picked up in 2001 while he was with West Brom.

An accident with team-mate Des Lyttle left him with torn posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee.

Two years later, at the age of 27, Appleton, left, was forced to retire.

But it’s that pain which has fuelled a desire to make it as top-level coach – a target he has relentlessly pursued since the moment he called it quits.

The knee injury which forced his retirement proved a watershed moment for football and surgeons.

That’s because the man who came through the ranks at Manchester United with the likes of David Beckham, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes, went on to successfully sue the surgeon who carried out his operations.

In 2007, Appleton was awarded £1.5m in damages after his surgeon admitted he was wrongly operated on.

By then, though, the highly-regarded coach was a long way into progressing down the road which now looks likely to see him moving into the managerial hot seat at Pompey.

The Salford-born former midfielder, who also played for Preston, quickly picked up all the relevant coaching badges needed in the modern-day game.

And West Brom soon cited him as a project which would one day see him brought through their system to become first-team boss.

Appleton took charge of the club’s under-14 set-up before moving through to oversee the Academy and reserve sides at the Hawthorns.

He was then fast-tracked into the first-team frame where he has remained as assistant in recent seasons.

Despite his relative tender years, Appleton was on a short-list of four to become the new Baggies boss before Roy Hodgson was appointed.

And it appears his desire to make the managerial move sooner rather than later and step out in his own right has arrived at the perfect time for Pompey.