MICHAEL Appleton looks set to be appointed Blackburn Rovers’ new manager today – despite a late rally of support for caretaker boss Gary Bowyer from senior players.
The Lancashire Telegraph understands several of Rovers’ first team squad urged the club’s hierarchy to give temporary duo Bowyer and Terry McPhillips longer at the helm, but their advice has been ignored by some quarters.
Appleton’s switch – and that of assistant Ashley Westwood – would come two months after being appointed Blackpool boss from Portsmouth, with members of Rovers’ squad adamant Bowyer deserved the chance to continue .
The caretaker boss has guided the team to three consecutive wins – following a dismal run under Henning Berg – but is now likely to be in the dug out for the last time for the trip to Wolves this evening.
After a day of compensation talks, Blackpool gave Rovers permission to speak to Appleton yesterday evening – following Wednesday’s late night approach – with Ewood directors expecting to be able to unveil his appointment today after talks.
Mixed messages were coming from the club though with sources close to global advisor Shebby Singh telling the Lancashire Telegraph he believed Bowyer would continue in the hot seat for the next couple of weeks at least – at the request of owners Venky’s.
Singh has been involved in a power struggle with managing director Derek Shaw and operations director Paul Agnew for most of the season, with the latter duo responsible for interest in Appleton.
Appleton yesterday said his farewells to staff at Bloomfield Road - after compensation was agreed - and it would be a remarkable turnaround should he not be appointed Rovers boss now.
His arrival would also call into question the controversial Singh’s future at the club, with Shaw and Agnew having already flown to India to voice their concerns about his role to the owners.
All three declined to comment on the managerial situation when contacted by the Lancashire Telegraph last night, although Singh did say: “We are searching for stability and we have found that over the past couple of weeks. Long may it continue.”
Singh was in the dark about Rovers’ approach for Appleton, who was known by Shaw from Preston connections, and believes a more experienced manager would be beneficial for the club.
Shaw’s efforts to land Appleton, 37, come a little more than a week after he helped produce a statement announcing Bowyer and McPhillips would be in the temporary hot seat until at least the end of the month.
Several of Rovers’ players believe Bowyer deserved longer in the reigns and are even understood to have expressed their thoughts to club directors.
Striker Colin Kazim-Richards last night tweeted: “I hope to god we make it four in four for Gaz and his team.
“To let you know whoever is in charge my priority is the same #Promotion, but I have to say playing under Gaz after the last has been fresh air.
“I'm not talking any manager in particular, I'm just saying that this is the best run we've had this season something's going right.”
Appleton is understand to have grown frustrated at a lack of support in the transfer market at Bloomfield Road, leaving him ready to join Rovers after just two months at the helm at Bloomfield.
He previously enjoyed a caretaker management role at West Brom, before taking charge of crisis club Portsmouth.