MICHAEL Appleton was due to meet Venky’s to discuss his January transfer plans ahead of tonight’s home match against Brighton, but he admits their absence from the game may help to improve the atmosphere at Ewood Park tonight.
Rovers’ owners received a frosty reception when they arrived at Ewood for Saturday’s home game against Charlton, for what was only Anuradha Desai’s second visit to Blackburn. Husband Jitendra was hit by a snowball on his arrival at the ground and Appleton admits protests against Venky’s made it an uncomfortable first match in charge of the club, as Charlton claimed a 2-1 win.
“They’re not coming to the game, I think it’s probably a good idea at the minute,” Appleton said.
“I think there will be a better atmosphere at the game. There was obviously a lot going on on Saturday, and there was a lot of negativity that probably didn’t need to be there.
“I think that did probably tell on the performance a little bit, but I’m not going to make excuses.”
But the new Rovers boss revealed he was due to meet the owners before their return to India and present them with a plan based on his observations since his arrival last week. “I’ve put an action plan together to give them and go through when I meet with them face to face,” he said yesterday.
“It’s pretty much a warts and all of what I think and where we need to go with the football club.
“Obviously that will include people that I might want to bring in full time or on loan. “But it’s not just about players coming in and going out, it’s my overview of where we need to go with the football club over the coming years.”
Appleton has already been linked with moves for Barnsley right back Scott Wiseman and West Brom centre back Craig Dawson, and admitted that he still rates both players highly – having tried to sign the pair during his brief spell at Blackpool.
He says the club’s recruitment process must improve ‘tenfold’ after admitting Rovers’ squad is too large and is overstocked in some areas but short in others. “I’ve always worked with a basis that if you work with maybe 20 or 22 players, if you have three or four injuries and all of a sudden you’re short, for the majority of time you can get a loan player,” said the boss, who confirmed that defender Bradley Orr will return from his loan at Ipswich next week.
“Working with a smaller squad it makes it more competitive, it makes the team more unified, there’s a little bit more togetherness. If you’re working with 40 players you can only have 18 players in the squad every week so there are going to be 20 players disappointed. That is going to take some time, this isn’t a short term thing.
“I think from a style of play point of view, in the wide areas we’ve got a lot of players who maybe play off the striker and are having to go and play in the wide areas because we haven’t got natural wide players.
“There are probably three or four areas of the pitch that we need to improve on, one of them is obviously in the wide areas and I still think we’re a little bit short up front.”
But Appleton says outgoings could also affect transfer activity.
Martin Olsson has been the subject of interest from West Ham and a resolution is expected soon on the future of Paul Robinson, who has fallen behind Jake Kean in the pecking order.
There have been suggestions that the keeper could be released from his contract.
“I’ve only spoken to Paul briefly because he’s been injured and I’m working with the players who are fit at the minute, but that will be a discussion that happens over the next week or so,” Appleton said.
“The impression I get is that he’s not in a massive rush to leave the football club.
“I think between myself, Paul and the board we’ll come out with the right solution that is obviously best for both parties.
“You’ve got the Martin Olsson situation as well and I have to make sure that if anything happens late in the window that I’m prepared for that.”
Reducing the wage bill is something that Appleton has prioritised, although not at the expense of results.
“The one thing I said I would do, and I will do, is I will reduce the wage bill but I’ll do it by not hurting the actual quality,” he said.
“The plan is to reduce the wage bill but improve the quality.”
Tonight’s game is a rearranged fixture from December.
Indeed, Rovers’ away match at Brighton has also been switched from this weekend when both sides are in FA Cup fourth round action. The trip south will now take place on Tuesday, February 12 – providing neither club need a replay in the cup.
ABOVE: Michael Appleton talks about his new role.