As we mentioned in the earlier report about Mick McCarthy not being in the frame for Bolton Wanderers, the club have made it all but official that they are looking to continue down the road of youth that Owen Coyle started the club on. This means a more attractive style of play, leaner spending, and a younger squad that will take heavily from the academy. One of the bookies' favorites (currently third in the running with odds as low as 7/1), has a history of doing just that.
Some Bolton fans will be able to recall the name Michael Appleton. He is the current manager of Portsmouth and the man that led Pompey to an unexpected 3-0 win over Bolton Wanderers in a summer friendly. Appleton is very young for a manager. At 36 years old, he's Owen Coyle's junior by 10 years. Like most managers, Appleton started his career as a player, with Manchester United being his first club. Appleton left United, citing a previous altercation with a striker that Manchester were bringing in at the time.
The midfielder spent the majority of his career with Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion. His career ended at the latter at the age of just 27, due to injury. While at West Brom, he played under Gary Megson, who describedAppleton's forced retirement as "one of the saddest days I've had as a manager."
"Football can't afford to be losing a player of his ilk.
"Seeing any player have to finish his career through injury is a huge blow but losing a player with the character of Michael is a massive, massive blow."
Some six years later, Appleton returned to West Brom as a first team coach in 2009, when Roberto Di Matteo was manager of the club. After the current Chelsea boss was sacked by West Brom in 2011, Appleton took control of one west WBA match as caretaker manager, a 3-3 draw against West Ham United.
In November of 2011, Appleton was appointed manager of beleaguered Portsmouth FC. He was given three-and-a-half years in his first full managerial role. Portsmouth's financial issues are well publicized and their point deductions due to going into administration are well known. In February, Pompey were handed a 10 point deduction after going into administration again, a move that dropped them to 21st place (one out of the drop zone on goal difference alone).
In his first season at Portsmouth, Appleton's win percentage was hardly impressive but it is easily explained due to the club's inability to sign players and pay the existing ones. His Portsmouth team are currently 17th in League One on 12 points after 11 games. The current Pompey squad is made up heavily of trialists and a couple of loan players. One name that fans of Major League Soccer will recognize is that of Luke Rodgers, the former New York Red Bulls forward. He was signed on a month-by-month deal along with nine other players.
Appleton's Portsmouth side faced Bolton Wanderers over the summer and defeated the Trotters by a score of 3-0. The team was still made up of trialists then, with only Liam Lawrence and Tal Ben Haim on contracts (both have since left the club. Despite his club's financial issues, Appleton has said on multiple occasions that he will stay and fight with them, becoming a fan favorite as a result.