Appleton seeks Mendes inspiration

Pedro Mendes scores his winner against Manchester City in 2006
Pedro Mendes scores his winner against Manchester City in 2006
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Michael Appleton wants Pedro Mendes’ wonder strike to inspire his Pompey side to create their own Great Escape.

The Blues head to Brighton tomorrow, rock bottom of the Championship with 12 matches to play.

It will be a massive ask to avoid relegation amid a bleak backdrop of the likelihood of yet even more players leaving Fratton Park.

As ever, Appleton remains defiant in the face of more adversity.

What’s more, he has shown his players a DVD of the remarkable run-in to the 2005-06 campaign to prove it can be achieved.

It was the corresponding weekend six years ago when Mendes conjured up his iconic match-winner against Manchester City.

Harry Redknapp’s side went on to lose just one of their next nine matches to secure safety at Wigan with a game to spare.

For Appleton, it is crucial his team play without fear as they look to emulate that feat.

And the Blues boss is seeking his players to produce their own Mendes moment at the Amex Stadium.

Appleton said: ‘The message I keep sending the players at the minute is to just go out and enjoy it.

‘Please don’t play with any fear. You’ve got nothing to fear from me, you have certainly not got anything to fear and be ashamed of in front of your own fans.

‘It is not your fault we are in this position at the minute.

‘We have shown the players the videos of Portsmouth staying in the Premier League that year.

‘It’s just a little reminder that things can happen, things can be done. It’s not just me trying to fill their heads full of rubbish.

‘It is relative because it is their club and it happened not too long ago.

‘The last clip I remember showing was Benji scoring a goal. He’s obviously now back here at the football club.

‘It’s okay me standing there in front of a group of players and telling them “we can do this, we will do this and this is how we are going to do it”.

‘But if they physically see it has been done before then, hopefully, they will believe in what you are trying to say and do.

‘And I will be amazed if the players at that time didn’t get any more information than just “go and enjoy yourself and play to your strengths”.’

Pompey head into the Brighton clash without a win in seven matches, having scored just twice during that period.

And Appleton is desperate for a catalyst to kick-start their survival challenge.

He added: ‘If we win one game I’d be very interested to see how the other teams react.

‘If we can nick a game then it will be a catalyst to what could happen over a period of games.

‘In the past three or four weeks we have not been able to put enough pressure on the teams around us – but, at some point, we will.’