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Appleton calls for Ewood Park 'exorcism'
A FURIOUS Michael Appleton believes Blackburn Rovers need an exorcism to wipe the slate clean – after accusing too many at the club of “living off their pasts”.
A humiliating 3-2 home defeat to Championship strugglers Peterborough leaves Rovers 10 points adrift of the top six and without a win in five league games, with Appleton, left, pulling no punches on an “unacceptable” performance.
A 27-minute hat trick from Dwight Gayle saw the Posh race into a 3-0 lead half-time and Appleton withdrew Danny Murphy, David Bentley and Bradley Orr at the break – admitting afterwards he would have taken more off if he could.
Appleton questioned how many of his players cared enough about Saturday’s first half horror show and promised there would be significant changes for tomorrow’s trip to Bolton.
A second half goal from Jordan Rhodes and an injury time strike from Dave Jones, who signed on loan from Wigan on Saturday morning, restored some pride but was far from enough to satisfy Appleton.
He said: “To say it was a first half horror show is one of the biggest understatements of the season. If the rules had allowed me to make six or seven subs I would have done. Unfortunately I could only make three.
“The problems today are what three or four managers have had have reared its head again. You either be brave and deal with it head on or you go down sinking without a battle. I know which way I am going to go.
“I do feel a little bit let down by them but they let themselves down, they should be disappointed in themselves but that is the issue. Are they disappointed? Are they genuinely gutted that they came in at half time 3-0 down? Does it matter to them that much?
“There are certainly players in that dressing room who are hurting but I’m not convinced it is all of them.
“It is almost as though the football club needs an exorcism. In terms of a real clean slate, get to the bare bones of what we need to do, get to basics, the fundamental aspects of how we get this football club back in a place where everyone can be delighted to come and watch the team.
“You don’t win games on paper. If you don’t respect the division you are going to struggle. You can’t live off your past, you can’t live off what you might have done before, you have to live in the present.”
After tomorrow’s trip to Bolton, Rovers face Championship rivals Millwall at the Den on Sunday in the FA Cup quarter final.
But, despite being just 90 minutes away from Wembley, Appleton insists any cup success should not mask the current failings within the club.
“Ironic as it is in a week’s time we play in the quarter final of the FA Cup with an opportunity to play at Wembley,” he said. “If we are lucky enough on the day for that to happen, I hope it doesn’t mask the stuff we need to deal with at this club.
“There is going to be an opportunity now for some young players, players who have not played for a while, because if I am going to lose a game, I am going to lose it with honesty, commitment and desire.
“I know I am going to get that for the next 11 games. I know that now, whether we get enough wins to make sure we are going to be competitive to make teams look over their shoulders, who knows.
I can assure you there will be changes.
“When a new manager comes in he always hopes to get to the end of the season to rebuild and restructure and put a formula together that can push forward.
“In the meantime there will be a lot of work put in, a lot of blood, sweat and tears, a lot of highs and lows. It is about staying together but to stay together you need mentally strong men and I’m not sure where some of the players are from a mental point of view at the minute.
“You cant complain about the fans’ reaction, I would have been the same. I was the same at half time.
“I was just astonished the way we went about it. Maybe I have found out today the hard way about why the club has had three or four managers this season.”