Pompey rebuff ex-boss’ interest in return

Former Pompey boss Michael Appleton Picture: Joe Pepler
Former Pompey boss Michael Appleton Picture: Joe Pepler

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Michael Appleton has lodged an interest in a return to the vacant Pompey managerial hot seat.

However, The News understands the club are not entertaining a reunion with their former boss, who walked out on the club barely a year ago.

Within hours of Guy Whittingham’s sacking on Monday afternoon, representatives of Appleton contacted the Blues over a potential comeback.

The 37-year-old stated during a Sky TV interview last week that he had ‘unfinished business’ at Fratton Park following his exit for Championship Blackpool on November 7 last year.

He later went on to manage Blackburn but has been without a job since March, although was a frontrunner for recent jobs at Doncaster and with the England under-21s.

Whittingham stepped in when Appleton left Pompey, with his then caretaker role developing into a permanent managerial position until his dismissal this week.

Now the former West Brom head coach has made noises about coming back to the south coast in an attempt to boost their spluttering League Two play-off aspirations.

But despite being highly popular among the Fratton faithful during his 11 months and 29 days as boss, it is believed the Blues have told Appleton they have no interest in bringing him back.

Some figures within the club remain unhappy over the manner of his departure, while the consensus is other options will be explored in finding a successor to Whittingham.

Nonetheless, Appleton managed the club during some thankless times, including its plummet into administration for a second time in quick succession, and impressed with the way he handled the situation.

In terms of candidates, the Blues have received 80-90 aplications since Monday afternoon’s decision, with a close date of Tuesday, December 3.

One strong early contender to emerge is Crawley boss Richie Barker.

Barker led Bury to promotion from League Two in 2010-11 and kept them in League One for a season – finishing in mid-table – until departing for Crawley in August 2012.

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin knows the Hove-based Barker from those Gigg Lane days, having been involved in his appointment, and is an admirer of the 38-year-old who has continued to impress with the Reds.

However, a big issue for the Blues identifying any manager currently in employment will be the requirement to pay compensation for a contract to be ended.

That scenario would also hamper any potential interest in Exeter boss Paul Tisdale.