Appy Christmas, lads

Michael Appleton
Michael Appleton
Pompey's second-year scholars back in 2016 when they signed up. Picture: Colin Farmery

Crunch time approaching for fledgling Pompey talents

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POMPEY boss Michael Appleton embraced the festive spirit and told his players: Have Christmas Day off.

Many managers will adopt Ebeneezer Scrooge’s philosophy and order their troops in to work on the big day, however the Blues boss is not one of them.

He has allowed his men to spend time with their families, before reporting later that evening to travel to London for the Boxing Day clash at Millwall.

But Appleton insists Pompey will be fully prepared for their trip to the capital with an extended Christmas Eve training session.

He said: ‘I tend not to get the players in myself on Christmas Day.

‘We’ll probably have a longer session on Christmas Eve and get everything out of the way.

‘Once we’ve got the Christmas Eve session done, the players can’t be any more prepared for the game on Boxing Day.

‘There’s a good feeling about the place at the moment.

‘The players are buoyant and when we get to the hotel for Christmas night, we will go for a long walk and get it out of their legs.’

Appleton knows the Boxing Day result will dictate whether it was the right decision but he trusts his players to repay his faith.

He said: ‘I suppose you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

‘There’s not a right way, it’s just that you get a feeling.

‘It’s a flick of a coin and we’ll soon see on Boxing Day if it’s the right thing to do.

‘Since I’ve been a player, we’ve mixed it up every year.

‘A lot of teams come in and train on Christmas evening and then get straight on the bus and travel.

‘We’re playing at 1pm the next day so we have to be careful.’

Appleton added: ‘It’s sometimes nice for the players to switch off and forget about football – especially if they’ve got kids.

‘And sometimes you get to a certain time on Christmas Day and you’ve probably had enough and want a bit of peace and quiet!

‘But when they report to the training ground to travel, that’s when they think “okay, game time”.’