Appleton: No regrets over Pompey move

Pompey manager Michael Appleton is braced for a few tough months at the club
Pompey manager Michael Appleton is braced for a few tough months at the club

Michael Appleton surv-eyed the storm clouds on Pompey’s horizon and insisted: I’ve no regrets.

The embattled Blues boss vowed he doesn’t have any reservations about his move to Fratton Park as the club fights for its life once again.

Appleton has told his players it is going to take all of their resolve to survive another bleak period in Pompey’s history.

The challenge to stand up to that fight comes with Ipswich upping their bid for Joel Ward and Jason Pearce, which the Blues are reported to have turned down.

Appleton is now two months into a role which looks a very different proposition to the one he took on in November.

Pompey are preparing to be hit with a winding-up petition after failing to pay a £1.6m tax bill. And they are still desperately searching for a credible owner after Convers Sports Initiatives fell into administration.

It’s been a familiar tale of woe for the Blues – but Appleton promised he has no desire to walk away from the battle.

Appleton said: ‘There are no regrets for me. Not at all.

‘From my view, this was an opportunity I wanted to take.

‘It’s where I am at the minute and it will take a strong personality and a strong group of people, in terms of staff we have at the club, to get through it.

‘It looked like the club was in a decent position, with wealthy owners who wanted to take the club to the top end of the Championship and the Premier League.

‘Within a week, one had been arrested and is now bailed, so the goalposts moved straight away.

‘You can’t disguise the reality we have a tough couple of months coming up.

‘What we have is a real shortage of players, the smallest squad in the league.

‘There’s going to be good days and bad days, but we have to somehow, somehow, get some points.

‘It’s going to be difficult but, when I look the players in the eyes, I can see they have that belief and steeliness you need in the latter part of the season.

‘They’ll get all the encouragement from us to do that.’

Appleton is resigned to having to sell players before the close of the transfer window next Tuesday.

Ipswich made their second move for Pearce and Ward and upped their original £1m bid for the pair.

The likely reduction of size for the smallest squad in the Football League is another blow for the 36-year-old.

But Appleton, who was unaware of reported interest from Swindon in striker Benjani, isn’t standing for excuses from his team, and has underlined a desire to rise to the testing times ahead.

He said: ‘The stuff off the field probably feels tougher to take at the moment.

‘I don’t want to make excuses and I won’t accept excuses, but I’m asking the players to do things now I shouldn’t.

‘We have 13 fit outfield players and it isn’t going to get any better. We have to crack on. We have to keep the belief we have because they are a good bunch.

‘They work hard but are having to work too hard at the minute. I’m asking them to put shifts in they shouldn’t have to.

‘But I have to because of the lack of numbers we’ve got.’