Lampitt plays down the risk factor after getting his man

Michael Appleton, right, signs on the dotted line as new Pompey boss, watched by David Lampitt. Picture: Joe Pepler
Michael Appleton, right, signs on the dotted line as new Pompey boss, watched by David Lampitt. Picture: Joe Pepler

Depending on your point of view, the appointment of Michael Appleton as Pompey’s new boss will probably sit somewhere between a bold and courageous move by a forward-thinking club or a serious gamble on an untested manager.

But Blues chief executive, David Lampitt, insists that the reward far outweighs the risk after naming the 35-year-old as the new man in the Fratton Park hot seat.

It’s fair to say that Appleton was not exactly the name on everyone’s lips when Steve Cotterill made his move to Nottingham Forest.

The West Brom assistant head coach was linked to the post only late in the protracted process, although Lampitt insists he was very much in their thoughts at an early stage.

And while Lampitt can understand the view that a first managerial post for a rookie boss will not be everyone’s ideal choice, the chief executive is convinced he has the right man in place.

Lampitt said: ‘Virtually everyone has asked me if it’s a risk. It’s always a risk bringing someone new in because you never quite know.

‘You get to sit down with people for a few hours and maybe for a few times and you’ve then got to make an assessment and you do your research on them.

‘From our point of view, with everything we have learned about Michael, we don’t feel it is a risk.

‘Michael was a bit of a dark horse but we’ve got a fantastic, ambitious, young manager who is going to take the club forward in the right way.

‘I understand people thinking he is a bit of a risk, but appointing anyone is a bit of a risk. You never quite know what you are going to get.

‘We’ve done our homework to make sure we have got someone who we think will take our club forward.

‘He is someone who matches the ambitions of the club.’

From an early step in the search for the new manager, Pompey made it clear both Guy Whittingham, below, and Stuart Gray – who performed admirably as joint caretaker managers – would be part of the new backroom team.

And while that will have undoubtedly discouraged some potential candidates who would have wanted their own team in place, Appleton was happy to join the existing set-up.

Lampitt said: ‘I think it is important to have that structure in place.

‘There is a tendency in football to have that entourage and when you lose your manager or bring in a new manager, you have three, four or five changes that go with it.

‘For us, when we sat down and looked at this, we decided we didn’t want to upset that apple cart.

‘We’ve got a good set-up here – it’s something that we’re happy with and the players are happy with.

‘We wanted that continuity. We didn’t want wholesale change and, in my view, we don’t need wholesale change.

‘We’ve got some fantastic people supporting the first team at the training ground and we see Michael as a very positive addition to that.

‘He will be somebody who fits in well with what we’ve got.’

Appleton, who has attracted interest from other Championship clubs in the past but has not been tempted by the offers, is certainly confident of making his first managerial job a success, and Lampitt and the owners have all been impressed by his attitude.

It says much for Appleton’s belief that he is fully prepared to come into a new club environment without feeling the pressing need to bring in his own assistant manager.

Lampitt said: ‘The very fact that he is coming here and is prepared to step in without an entourage or even a couple of people behind him and is happy to work with the existing staff says an awful lot about him as a man, his character, his self-belief and confidence.

‘Through the process, your thoughts and the people you think are the strongest candidates always evolves, but Michael was there from the start and impressed us from the start.

‘He did nothing but push himself forward in the way he approached it and with everything we have got to know about him.’