A FRUSTRATED Michael Appleton has demanded more “bravery” and “commitment” from his Blackburn Rovers side – after challenging them to cope with the Ewood Park factor.
Appleton’s first game in charge of Rovers ended in a 2-1 home defeat to Charlton, leaving him to question his players’ mentality when playing in front of an expectant home crowd.
The Ewood atmosphere was not helped by the presence of owners Venky’s, with co-owner Anuradha Desai making just her second visit, who received a hostile welcome.
Sections of Rovers supporters chanted for “Venky’s out” for large parts before the family left 25 minutes before the end.
Appleton described the atmosphere as “strange” but insists his players have to be professional enough to cope.
He said: “It was strange. I think we are going to have to get used to creating our own atmosphere. That was the message I was saying to the players.
“There are players in there capable of lifting things. I am going to be looking to some of the experienced players in the coming weeks to bring a few of the younger players on.
“You have to be brave. I could go on that pitch and my pass percentage could have been around the 90 per cent mark but all I probably would have done is go square and backwards to make that happen.
“You have to be brave to move the ball forward quickly and limit our touches on the ball. It is always an indication when someone is taking too many touches on the ball that they are trying to chase their form or chase a poor decision they have made previously.
“Without a shadow of a doubt it is about mentality.”
A crowd of 13,647 was quiet for large spells on Saturday as Rovers struggled to get them off their seats.
And, with the final whistle greeted by jeers, Appleton has stressed the importance of the players taking responsibility.
He said: “I am sure the supporters just want to see a committed performance from the players, they huffed and puffed but I’m not sure how committed they were when they conceded the second goal, which is disappointing.
“Frustrated is the word I would use more than anything. I certainly expected more. I think the atmosphere in the stadium was a strange one. So they have to deal with that.
“They are certainly a big fish in a smaller pond to what they were in last year. There is added pressure that goes with that, they have to deal with and they are going to have to cope with it.
“They have three home games in quick succession and it is going to be a challenge for them, it is going to be a challenge for everyone.”