Appy keen to steer Pompey to calmer waters

Pompey boss Michael Appleton  Picture: Robin Jones
Pompey boss Michael Appleton Picture: Robin Jones

HMS Pompey has taken a monumental hit and is fighting hard to stay afloat.

In treacherous waters, the treasures are being thrown overboard in a frenetic effort to stop it from sinking altogether.

But the captain is standing on deck and refusing to jump ship – no matter what the outcome is.

Michael Appleton will ensure the band continues to play until it can play no more.

He intends to survive, though, and be there when the ship’s raised, if the worst is to happen.

Pompey go into the critical weekend meeting with fellow Championship strugglers Bristol City eight points from safety.

Win and the gap to safety drops to five by Saturday tea-time and the Blues are then asking the question of their relegation rivals.

But wherever the club is playing next season, Appleton wants to be around.

And the 36-year-old is making plans for both Championship and League One – if their fate is decided on the pitch.

Not being able to steer his ship on any sort of reasonable course has been the problem for the Pompey boss.

He’s hoping to one day be able to sail it into calmer waters with his hand at the tiller.

Appleton said: ‘As far as I’m concerned, the biggest thing is to have a club next season.

‘My pride hurts when we lose a game, but sometimes there isn’t a lot you can do about it.

‘It’s my job just to ensure there’s a club next season, regardless of what division it’s in.

‘It’s been difficult. I’ll continue to do what I do and hopefully people will see the situation.

‘Sometimes a manager’s role is to prepare the team and set it up right and try to win games.

‘That’s not been my job for a long time.

‘I haven’t brought a player into the club on a full-time basis since I’ve been here.

‘People will judge me, hopefully, on the players I do bring in.

‘If they do that there will hopefully be a future for Michael Appleton beyond this season, regardless of what happens.

‘I do not make those decisions, though.

‘Loans are part and parcel of the game but, at some point, I’d like to put my own squad together.

‘That’s probably me stretching my imagination, though.’

Fighting a battle to stay alive in England’s second tier over the final 11 games of the campaign now has to be married with the battle to stay alive full stop.

Administrator Trevor Birch and his team have generated the income to give Pompey the chance to get through to the end of the campaign.

He is refusing to say whether the latest influx of cash from departures and previous transfer dealings can emphatically ensure that’s the case, though.

Appleton is realistic enough to expect further exits on top of Stephen Henderson and Hayden Mullins – the latest to depart Fratton Park – leaving.

But he pinpointed the need for Birch to walk the line between giving his team the chance stay up and keeping Pompey running.

Appleton said: ‘At the end of the day, Trevor has a job to do. He’s employed to get us out of administration.

‘He wants to do that and make us as attractive to proposed buyers as he possibly can.

‘He’s not daft and he knows staying in the Championship will make it a lot easier to sell the club and move it on than if we were in League One.

‘But he has to balance that with the fact that to get rid of the club there has to be a club.

‘If we’re sensible and it presents an opportunity to the player at the right price, it’s something we have to do.

‘At the end of the day, if the player is adamant he’s not leaving there’s nothing we can do.

‘Liam (Lawrence) did not want to leave the club but he’s in a position where he can help it over a short-term basis.

‘It may be just short-term. The loan is for a couple of months.

‘If that helps the club staying in business and they can play then fine.

‘Sometimes the players have to look at it like that.’