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COMMENT: Appleton can provide right ingredients
IT’S obvious why Burnley would want to pinpoint Mick McCarthy in the hunt for the next hotseat incumbent.
The Yorkshireman took Wolverhampton Wanderers up to the Premier League in 2009, and kept them up for two seasons.
He commands authority and respect. He could get a grip on a squad that could well be feeling vulnerable not just as a consequence of the unanticipated loss of their manager last week, but also on the back of some brittle defensive performances which have led to points being dropped at an alarming rate – home and away.
He could be their Mr Fix-It. But for how long?
The 53-year-old is keen to manage in the Premier League again sooner rather than later.
His immediate ambitions may not match Burnley’s.
Yes, the Clarets long for a top flight return also. But as co-chairman Mike Garlick pointed out this week, they feel it does not have to be achieved this season. There is not the same urgency.
This is a long-term plan, it needs a long-term appointment and a patient approach, and Michael Appleton is proving a tantalising proposition.
Although Portsmouth is the 36-year-old’s first job in full-time management, an impressive coaching CV stretches back almost a decade.
In that time he has worked under the stewardship of Gary Megson, Tony Mowbray, Roberto di Matteo and Roy Hodgson – earning excellent appraisals from all.
Upon Appleton’s appointment as Portsmouth boss in November 2011, then Baggies manager Hodgson said: “All we can do is bemoan the fact it is a great loss for us and congratulate Portsmouth on appointing an excellent manager.”
In the early days, Salford-born Appleton was Mark Hughes’ boot boy at Manchester United, approaching those duties with as much diligence as he displayed on the field. Sir Alex Ferguson is a fan.
Appleton was popular for Preston North End too, helping them to win promotion as Division One champions in 2000 – the year Burnley finished runners-up.
He was signed by West Brom the following January.
Like Eddie Howe, who became Burnley boss aged just 33, injury forced early retirement. A career in coaching came ahead of schedule at 27, but it never fazed him.
Neither has Portsmouth’s financial strife, which has had severe implications on the job he was been able to do.
Falling into administration for a second time incurred a hefty points deduction, transfer embargoes and consigned them to relegation from the Championship.
Until two days before this season started he did not have a single professional footballer.
He has since persuaded 18 to play for him on rolling monthly contracts and in the face of adversity he has demonstrated true fight.
Against the odds, Portsmouth have punched their way to a mid-table position.
In this battle for the Burnley hotseat, Appleton is a stand-out contender.
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