MICHAEL Appleton wants to bring ‘normality’ back to Ewood Park and is adamant he does have the experience needed to become a success as Blackburn Rovers manager.
The 37-year-old arrives at a club who have been shrouded in chaos and uncertainty during Venky’s reign two year reign but, at his unveiling at Ewood yesterday, he was adamant he was relishing the challenge ahead.
While Venky’s remain under fire from large sections of Rovers fans, some have also questioned whether Appleton is experienced enough to cope.
But, ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Charlton, the former Portsmouth and Blackpool boss was quick to play down suggestions that Rovers had appointed an inexperienced boss – having quit as Blackpool manager just two months after being appointed.
He said: “Relations within the football club and between the football club and its fans will improve the more stability we can bring. The football club just needs a bit of normality and to focus on what is the most important thing and that, obviously, is the football.
“I did make a footballing decision to come here and leave Blackpool. I’d be amazed, take away the top six managers in the country, if there was another manager who would have made a different decision. I understand the experience thing. People use experience with me because of my age, but they don’t realise how long I have been in the coaching and management side.
“I last kicked a ball in anger when I was 25, did two years of rehab and retired at 27. I am 37 now, so 10 years on having worked at every level of a football club.
“This is my third management role, I have been an assistant manager to the England manager (Roy Hodgson) and to a Champions League winner (Roberto Di Matteo). They are probably a little bit naive when talking about experience and that is due to my age.”
Appleton becomes Rovers’ fifth manager already this season, with many eyebrows raised at his decision to join what has been a disastrous regime under Venky’s.
But, having experienced crisis management during a turbulent spell at cash-strapped Portsmouth, Appleton insists he is ready for what is to follow.
“The experience I had at Portsmouth, I’d be surprised if there was any other manager in the country who had that sort of experience,” he said.
“Within the space of 12 months the things I had to deal with redundancies, deferrals on wages, losing your best players, points deductions, budgets that were given to you one month and within two or three weeks reduced by 20 per cent.
“Having to deal with players who could not repay their mortgages, having cars repossessed, not being able to get into your own training ground because the company who owned it locked the gates.
“Being away on a pre-season tour on your way to a game and told you are going to be liquidated in the morning.
“Having to deal with players and agents who, had they put in their 10-day notice, would have finished the football club, so having to massage egos.
“When people talk about pressure, there is pressure in every job, but I have come here and think it is hardly the pressure we had at Portsmouth.”
So why did Appleton quit his post at Bloomfield Road in favour of Ewood Park?
Rumours of a fall out with chairman Karl Oyston and frustration at a lack of transfer activity have been aplenty, but Appleton insists it was just an opportunity he could not turn down.
He said: “It’s a fantastic football club with great traditions. One of only five clubs to win the Premier League. I think that pretty much says it all.
“With being a northern lad myself I’m very well aware of the great history, players and managers this club has had over a period of time since the Premier League has been going.
“I’m privileged to be part of that group and hopefully I can be a successful one rather than unsuccessful.
“I genuinely believe that with the owners and with their ambitions that I will be allowed to do that.”