Michael Appleton looks set to be appointed the next England Under 21 manager after watching from the stands Tuesday night at Bramall Lane. The appointment doesn’t particularly comes as a surprise considering the ex West Brom employees who all work for the F.A now; no doubt Appleton would have been Hodgson’s preferred appointment.
Along with the technical director, Dan Ashworth, Appleton couldn’t have been in a much greater position to get the England under 21 job. With the unequivocal support that would have been given to Appleton after both Hodgson and Ashworth have had from working with him, Appleton was always in pole position.
The Under 21’s need coaching, not particularly managing. Good players manage themselves and a good coach steers them in the right direction. Appleton has always been regarded as a talented, young, ambitious coach who has rave reviews from previous West Brom players who all praise his coaching sessions. Clearly, Appleton is a very good coach but whether he is a good manager remains to be seen.
The jury is certainly out on that one. His time at Portsmouth was blighted by administration, no players, unable to avoid scans for injured players, having no squad the day before his first League 1 game against Bournemouth and signing players on tenuous month to month contracts. Appleton was promised a project at Portsmouth and 2 weeks into his 3 year contract, it was gone. The arrests of former Portsmouth owners, administration, having to get rid of senior players or the clubs goes into liquidation, Appleton had it all to deal with in his first management role.
However, Appleton dealt with the situation all very well and his credibility rose. He could have easily, however, walked away at the first sight of trouble, but stayed at the club and many Portsmouth fans were appreciative for the job he was doing and credited him for staying as long as he did. Appleton even admitted the main reason he stayed for so long was the fans’ reaction towards him.
Appleton would have been the perfect man for the Portsmouth job, given time, money and a chance to implement his ideas, but at Portsmouth that was never going to happen. For a first job in football management this was a baptism, Appleton, will never forget and can only put him in good stead for the future.
The switch to Blackpool from Portsmouth made little sense apart from Blackpool were in the Championship and Portsmouth were in League 1. Both clubs had little money and Blackpool were certainly prudent with their money; it was probably relieve to Appleton that he could concentrate on football rather than off the field matters. Out of the 12 games Appleton was in charge for, he drew 8 and lose 2.
Appleton made Blackpool difficult to beat and solid. However, his move to Blackburn was certainly a foolish one. A great club, sublime facilities but maverick owners. Appleton knew what he was getting himself into and should have known but when a big club like Blackburn Rovers come calling, it’s difficult not to be attracted and incised.
Appleton has yet to find stability at any club he has gone to and this has been his downfall as he’s been unable to find continued success with a particular club without matters affecting him off the field. The England Under 21 job is perfect for Appleton. The F.A, Roy Hodgson and the technical director Dan Ashworth will give stability and time to Appleton to do his job effectively and show the public what he is capable of as head coach.
Appleton will have a good selection of players with the likes of: Jack Butland, Ross Barkley, Tom Carroll, Nathaniel Chabloah, Will Hughes and Raheem Sterling. The England Under 21s failing to qualify out of their group was unacceptable and Stuart Pearce had to go for that failure. Under Michael Appleton, however, the England Under 21s will be in good hands for the foreseeable future. Appleton just needs stability to show what he’s capable of.
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