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Nearly every word from Michael Appleton’s pre-Northampton press conference: Under-pressure boss on never walking away from a challenge

Michael Appleton has underlined that he is no mood to walk away from Charlton Athletic despite growing pressure.

The Addicks have taken seven points from their last 10 matches and that has at least brought them into the equation where they need wins to make sure they do not get dragged into the League One drop fight.

There had been speculation on Sunday and again today that head coach Appleton had been sacked by the South London club – but the former Lincoln, Oxford and Blackpool boss conducted pre-match media duties on Zoom ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Northampton.

He also refuted suggestions that he had not taken first-team training this morning.

Below are answers to questions over his future.

What comment can you make over speculation he had left his post?

“I can’t comment on speculation but in terms of conversations with myself then unfortunately I’m probably going to disappoint a few that those conversations haven’t taken place.

“No (there has been no conversations in the last 48 hours). After the game, whether it be Saturday evening or Sunday morning, myself and Andy (Scott, technical director) speak – as we do every single week and after every single game.

“There is a disappointment that we’re on the run we’re on at the minute and clearly, between us, we know we want to improve that and make sure it changes very, very quickly.

“I’ve been in the game a long, long time. I know if that doesn’t change very, very quickly then I know what the outcome will be. But as far as discussions that are supposed to have taken place, I can’t really comment on that because they haven’t really happened.”

Have you been giving an indication what will happen after tomorrow’s game – any timetable set?

“No, no…but I think from a personal point of view, the reality is the longer the situation goes on without winning a game of football that does come with the job.

“It’s not my first rodeo. I’ve been here before, in difficult positions before, I understand the job and the role – the fact if you’re not winning games on a regular basis then your job is up for threat.

“I’m just trying to focus on tomorrow really, making sure the players are in a good frame of mind. It will be a difficult game. If we get a performance at the start of the game similar to what we did on Saturday in that first period, a little bit more clinical in our execution, we give ourselves a great chance of picking three points up.

“You always want patience and time as a manager but it’s not something managers get in this day and age. The only way we’re going to get time moving forward is by picking up a few results. If we do that I think you’ll see a natural progression and the team get better, win games on a regular basis. If that doesn’t happen then clearly we know what happens.”

Tomorrow’s game could be quite challenging for the players – a fragile atmosphere. What have you said about what their responsibilities are?

“Just channel all their thoughts and energy into the game itself. Make sure we’re respectful and that we know the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, which we do. Make sure we concentrate on trying to win the game itself and everything else that goes on – make sure it’s outside of what we can control. Make sure what we can control is what’s going on on the pitch. Hopefully we show the qualities that I know we’re capable of doing.”

What about the response from the crowd? The two can work together and feed off each other?

“It’s always a factor, in any game. Whether you are in good spells or bad spells, the reality is that the more the crowd and supporters get behind the team, the better chance you’ve got of winning. If it goes the other way, the more chance you’ve got you’re gonna lose the game. That is a fact – it doesn’t matter what club you’re at.

“From our point of view we want to set the tone. Our second half performance against Peterborough was on the front foot and we played the majority of the game in their half of the pitch. If we can get more of that from the start tomorrow, what that will do is get people right behind us.”

If results don’t turn, how much more can you take?

“I’ve never been in that position before where I have walked away or quit from something in my life. I’ve had a few challenges in my life – I’ve had cancer and an injury that cost me my career at the age of 22. I’ve never stepped away or taken a step back from anything.

“I won’t on this occasion.

“The harder it gets sometimes, the sweeter it can taste on the other side.

“That has always been the challenge of any manager, that when you are going through a tough period you have got to try and find a way of changing that and pulling it around. That’s the challenge I face at the minute.

“There has been a lot of stuff which has been said, at the minute, which doesn’t belong in the game – a lot of personal stuff. I find it hard to believe that they would say that to my face, because it might be a different scenario.”

Are you able to fend off the criticism?

“The only way I can is by trying to win the game. There is no other way to respond. I know from a professional point of view, from a work ethic point of view and a commitment point of view that these players get prepared as good as anybody at this level – if not above. When they cross the line I put my trust in them to get the job done. If they do it on a regular basis – fantastic. If they don’t then we all know the consequences.”

Did you take training this morning?

“I did take training this morning and yes this is me now – it’s not pre-recorded.”

What did you mean by personal stuff that had been said?

“Just stuff that has been relayed back to me that I don’t really need or want to go into.”

With the speculation, have you moved to get assurances off Andy Scott about things?

“Not really as such. It’s dead simple. If you’re not winning games for as long as we haven’t – our last league win was back end of November – we have put ourselves in this position because we haven’t been able to see out games when we’ve been in winning positions.

“I’m not here trying to blame anything or make excuses. Clearly we’ve had a lot of injuries but other clubs have injuries as well. The facts are what they are. If that doesn’t change we all know what the consequences are.”

You’re not the first manager to be in this situation where a lot of Charlton fans indicate they want to see change – how do you rebuild bridges so everyone is moving forward in the same direction?

“I’m a firm believer, and maybe I’m too honest at times and that is my downfall, that there is absolutely nothing I can do to change people’s mentality other than win games of football.

“We’re all different. We’ve all got different personalities and we all act differently. I’m not a performing seal on the sideline. I’ve managed nerly 500 games as a manager in a certain way – I’ve had a lot of success along the way. If I start changing now, for me, that is not being myself – it’s acting.”

Some fans were singing about getting your hands out of your jacket? Do you feel showing passion is projecting an image?

“Trust me…it’s acting. The modern day coach is all acting. Hardly any of them are being themselves. What you will get from me is honesty and humility.”

Are you still enjoying being Charlton head coach?

“Yeah. The best and most brilliant thing about being a head coach or manager is when you get the opportunity – it’s almost like therapy at times when you aren’t going through a particularly good spell or you lose a game at the weekend and the next time you’re in training…it’s that moment when you’re back around your coaches, staff and players – on the grass – that’s what we all sort of live for.

“It’s the hope that kills us. Once that game is done we can reflect and look back at the game but you’re thinking ahead all the time. There is almost an excitement, looking forward to the next game. That is where I’ve been through this six or seven weeks. As frustrated as I may get at times, the reality is that once you get back into work that thing that is inside you comes alive again.”


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One thought on “Nearly every word from Michael Appleton’s pre-Northampton press conference: Under-pressure boss on never walking away from a challenge

  • Amber Wright

    Hit the nail on the head… “It’s the hope that kills us” I hoped he had been sacked, yet the plonker is still here.


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