Appy: Communication with players is key to motivation

Keeping 'em Appy: Michael Appleton and Ricardo Rocha in training  Picture: Joe Pepler
Keeping 'em Appy: Michael Appleton and Ricardo Rocha in training Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey's Jamal Lowe. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Managing a collection of different pers-onalities can be a thankless task.

But Pompey’s situation is perhaps better illustrated in a normal working environment rath-er than within the confines of a football club.

Your boss comes over, tells you you’re not getting paid this month but asks you to work a bit harder and perform a bit better than you have been.

It’s certainly not his fault you’re not getting this month’s salary and he’s in the same unpaid boat as you.

But all of a sudden, his regular methods of motivation and even his normal use of discipline can no longer be called upon with such ease.

Faced with this set of circumstances, many of us normal workers might think of a two-word response to our boss’ request and start scouring the job listings for our next career move.

Welcome to Michael Appleton’s world.

High-profile footballers can be hard to control and extract optimum effort from at the best of times but perhaps even more so when they are not being paid.

Pompey’s players are slightly different in that they know they will eventually get their money through the football creditors’ rule.

And even if some critics are less than sympathetic to players earning upwards of £500,000 per year, everyone lives to their own means.

But it’s undeniable that the Blues squad have gone above and beyond the call of duty and remain intent on giving their best for the club.

As Pompey remain in administration – and the club’s future remains in doubt – Appleton admits he faces a tricky balance in trying to keep his men focused on football and getting them to give their all to keep the Blues in the Championship.

The Pompey boss explained: ‘I have tried to give them (the squad) as much information as I can.

‘I’m in constant contact with the players. It’s important.

‘Sometimes you can have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting but I think it’s important to speak to them on a daily basis as a group because it is such a delicate situation.

‘It’s not easy. You have to come up with scenarios and ways get into the players’ heads all the time.

‘You are constantly thinking what is going to motivate certain players.

‘You can give out a rollicking but that will only work for half a team.

‘You can put an arm around people, too.

‘You have your rallying cries and motivational speeches, all the things you’ve picked up as a player or coach over the years.

‘But the right thing is to try to take the pressure away as much as I possibly can and try to get them focused on football.

‘We have to remember that there are also games to be played.’

Aside from his motivational methods, Appleton admits he has even offered financial advice.

He said: ‘As a manager, you need to spend time with individuals.

‘It’s important to spend more time with them on their own and get an idea of what they are thinking and what they are up to.

‘Obviously they all have different personal situations. Some earn more than others, some are better off financially because of where they are in their careers.

‘We all live to a means, so it’s important for me to know where they are financially and socially so I can give them as much help as I can.

‘And if that means me recognising someone is having a bad day and it might be better for them not to train, I’ll recognise that.’