Wind-battered Appleton vows to ride out the Pompey storm

Michael Appleton. Picture: Robin Jones
Michael Appleton. Picture: Robin Jones
Pompey midfielder Carl Baker Picture: Joe Pepler

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Michael Appleton has been to the eye of the tornado.

People tell him the destruction will pass, calmness will descend, leaving behind a victim rich in the knowledge he has plummeted to the lowest point of football management.

A person who, crucially, has survived.

For Appleton, he can but hope for such a scenario. In the meantime, he has no fear.

Convers Sports Initiative’s world imploded just 19 days after they appointed the 36-year-old as Blues boss.

Since then the rookie manager has evolved into a battle-hardened veteran.

By his own frank admission, Appleton has been through life-defining times even before his entrance into Fratton Park.

There was retirement at the age of 27 – and a High Court battle against the surgeon who operated on him – as the midfielder was forced to reinvent himself as a coach.

The former West Bromwich Albion man could have walked away from his latest conflict.

He has had offers since the end of last season.

Instead he has opted to remain at Pompey, decided to face the tornado full on.

And determined to ride the storm which continues to rage on around him when lesser men would have fled for cover long ago.

He said: ‘Friends and family ask me all the time “How are you keeping?”.

‘I think they are genuinely concerned. The thing is, I really want to go through all of this.

‘A lot of people are concerned about me and I understand all that, but at the end of the day sometimes in life you want to face it.

‘That is the feeling I have got. Yes, I have experienced all sorts of things most people would have walked away from – it all comes natural to me.

‘I’ve been through the injury and five years of court cases in difficult circumstances.

‘It has felt me against the world at times.

‘Whether that is right or wrong who knows, but I have that sort of attitude and want to prove to a lot of people I will continue to fight.

‘As crazy as it seems, I am absolutely enjoying the battle.

‘I love a challenge.

‘I have never had a tougher challenge in my life as I have here.

‘Anything after this will be easy – well that is what I keep telling myself.

‘After what I have been through, whatever else is thrown up in management will be a piece of cake.

‘Actually, “piece of cake” has to be the most popular phrase people have said to me, high-profile people as well.

They keep telling me it will be a doddle after what I have experienced.

‘I hope they are right, but I have no idea when it will happen.

‘In the meantime, I’ll keep fighting away.’

In yesterday’s The News Appleton revealed how he had turned down approaches from clubs during the summer in favour of staying at Pompey.

During his nine months at the helm he feels he has built an affinity with the club and, in particular, its fans.

His honest and frank approach has won him the respect of the Fratton faithful who have longed craved transparency from those at the club, yet too often been let down.

Appleton has been different, establishing himself as a massive favourite with the followers of the club, regardless of relegation from the Championship last term.

And it is that relationship he is adamant has cemented his determination not to leave those fans in the lurch by walking out of Fratton Park.

He added: ‘The fans have been fantastic and understand the situation of the club.

‘I believe the relationship I have with them is as good as any manager up and down the country and that helps.

‘I really appreciate their support and it has helped through some really, really tough times for us all.

‘Backing like that gives you strength and I just hope we all get the chance to be able to stabilise this club and turn things around.’