MICHAEL APPLETON’s thoughts turn to the saddest point of his playing days at the very mention of Uwe Rosler.
Now the Pompey boss will be hoping his latest encounter with the Brentford manager doesn’t lead to another low.
It was back in the autumn of 2001 when the duo temporarily became team-mates at West Bromwich Albion.
East German international Rosler was signed on loan from Southampton to help bolster the Baggies’ promotion push towards the Premier League.
But the pair ended up playing only three Championship games alongside each other.
After suffering torn posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee during an accidental training ground tackle with Des Lyttle, Appleton was forced to call a premature end to his playing career.
And with Rosler eventually joining his former team-mate in the managerial ranks, the duo will now meet on a football pitch for the first time since, when the Bees come to Fratton Park tonight.
It’s a game Pompey go into on the back of three straight defeats – following their FA Cup exit at the hands of Notts County on Saturday and League One losses against Sheffield United and Stevenage.
A fourth defeat would add to what has been a frustrating couple of weeks for the Blues boss. But Appleton will be hoping his latest encounter with Rosler doesn’t provide him with a second testing time of his career.
Instead, he’s looking forward to being reunited with a player and manager he holds in high regard.
‘I played with Uwe when he came on loan to West Brom,’ said Appleton.
‘He came and did really well for us.
‘We were top of the Championship at the time and he came and had a month with us when Gary Megson was manager.
‘I think he got a couple of goals for us.
‘I remember it because it was actually just before I got injured – it was like the month before I got injured.
‘The last game I probably played, he was probably in the team – and if he wasn’t he was definitely in the one previous before.
‘He might well have been at the training session I got injured in, too.
‘I then saw him in Manchester about two years later and I thought there would be no way he’d remember me.
‘But he made a bee-line for me and came and said “hello”.
‘We ended up having a beer together.’
Appleton is keen not to do his old friend any favours, though.
After exiting the Cup at the first-round stage with a below-par performance on Saturday, he’s desperate to get Pompey back to winning ways.
‘I’m not being disrespectful to the Cup at all,’ said Appleton.
‘If we go on a run it’s brilliant – you earn a few quid out of it and the fans can get to travel to hopefully the third round.
‘But the real big picture, and I don’t want to take my eye away from it, is keeping the club in this division.
‘If we keep the club up this year, it will be the biggest achievement I’ve ever had in football.
‘I’ve had quite a few promotions as a player and a coach and helped keep a club in the Premier League. But none of them would come close if we keep the team in this division this year.’