Former Portsmouth, Blackburn Rovers, Oxford United, Lincoln City and Blackpool manager Michael Appleton has revealed he is eager to return to coaching, in an interview with the Mail Online.
The 47-year-old has been out of the game since being sacked by the Tangerines in January, after just seven months in charge at Bloomfield Road, following a run of one win in 11 Championship games.
With over 400 games under his belt as manager of Football League clubs, Appleton has remained deeply involved in football since his departure, spending time studying other coaches, tracking emerging talents and reflecting on his own performance.
He has shown tremendous pedigree in identifying and developing young players during previous spells, with Nottingham Forest duo Brennan Johnson and Harry Toffolo working under the Englishman during his time in Lincolnshire. Brooke Norton-Cuffy, Lewis Fiorini, and goalkeeping pair Josh Griffiths and Alex Palmer have also gone on to enjoy minutes in the Championship last season, after working under his leadership.
A product of the Manchester United academy, the Salford-born man was subject to the ‘hairdryer treatment’ from Sir Alex Ferguson, who berated him after he was sacked after just 65 days at Blackburn, warning him to be more careful in his choice of club.
The former midfielder has admitted that he’s had to adapt his methods when dealing with the modern footballer, having been used to the high standards and ferocious coaching at the Red Devils, whilst revealing he still has the hunger for a role back in the sport after a difficult couple of years.
Having coached across all three divisions in the EFL, as well as becoming an analyst during his period away from the game, the League Two promotion winner is waiting for the opportune moment to step straight back into management.
What’s been said?
“I’ve got no doubt I’ll be successful and as a manager all you want is a chance,” he insists.
“I’m not asking for the biggest budget. I know the players out there and I’ve managed in three of the four leagues.
“I still have the hunger and desire to manage, and I’ve been an assistant manager and coach in the Premier League and I wouldn’t rule out those roles either. It will be interesting to see what comes next.”
On working with today’s generation, the 47-year-old added: “I like being straight and realistic and sometimes people don’t like that. People don’t like being told what they don’t want to hear and at times you feel like you have to be a politician.
“When you do that you feel you lose a bit of authenticity and I don’t want to become a robot. Players have changed a lot and you have to be much more careful now than 10 or 15 years ago.
“I used to love proving people wrong but now you have to be more cautious when you speak to players. Many of the players in the EFL are probably earning more than their managers, and they’ll often outlast managers.
“But you can get around that by setting the right culture. If you make sure the environment is right, you can be successful. That’s not simply about putting a few posters up. It’s about high standards, good communication and the right people.”
I’ve personally always felt that Appleton would be perfect for a role within the England youth set up. There are endless examples of young players that have developed under his tenure, with a tendency to play passing and progressive football which is suitable to those operating at a higher level.
A polarising figure on the touchline, his laid back nature has led many to wrongly identify him as lacking passion. If he does decide to return to club football, it is important he heeds Sir Alex Ferguson’s advice, but I share his sentiments that he can still be a successful manager, having led Lincoln to the League One play-off final and Oxford to promotion to the third-tier.