Henderson heaps praise on Pompey manager

Michael Appleton has a bright future in management, according to Stephen Henderson
Michael Appleton has a bright future in management, according to Stephen Henderson
On-Loan Wolves midfielder Connor Ronan

Pompey loanee: So right to swap Premier League push for League One

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Michael Appleton has been backed as the man to restore Pompey fortunes.

That is verdict of Stephen Henderson, who is adamant the Blues boss represents the club’s greatest asset as they strive to rebuild in League One.

The Irishman joined West Ham in a permanent deal worth £600,000 earlier in the week.

Yet he leaves behind a club he feels can flourish under the leadership of Appleton following a second relegation in three seasons.

Henderson has plenty of respect for the manager who replaced Steve Cotterill at Fratton Park back in November. And if Appleton is given the tools – and Pompey can get through their latest financial crisis – the keeper is convinced good times lie ahead on the football pitch.

Henderson said: ‘I cannot speak highly enough of the man.

‘The way he handled things after coming into the environment he did was superb.

‘He never panicked, he maintained a chilled vibe and kept us – as players – in the loop. We appreciated that.

‘For me, there is no better man for Portsmouth. Absolutely no better man.

‘I just hope he is given some kind of chance. It’s a very difficult league. I just hope he gets a good budget.

‘We’ve already seen the calibre of players he can get in in the loan market. Look at George Thorne and Scott Allan.

‘I think both will play in the Premier League, especially Scotty. Joe Mattock was also a very good player.

‘No disrespect to Scott but nobody had heard of him before. I was only with him for five matches but saw the quality he has.

‘You can’t fault the manager’s judgement in the loan market and it just shows you what he can do if backed.’

Henderson’s Pompey league debut proved to be Steve Cotterill’s final game as boss.

But Appleton retained him as his number one, which enabled the 24-year-old to earn his maiden Republic of Ireland call-up.

Before moving on to the Hammers for an initial emergency loan spell, Henderson saw at close hand the ex-West Brom youth boss’ credentials during Pompey’s off-the-pitch turmoil.

And in those four months, the Dubliner was impressed by Appleton’s input.

He added: ‘Michael is honestly a great manager and I really hope it works out for him.

‘He does not say too much but when he does, people listen. He naturally gets that respect from his players.

‘He’s a top man – young, hungry and enthusiastic – and speaking to him at the play-off final the other day, he is already planning things for next season.

‘I really believe he is a great man who will manage a top Premier League team one day.’