Appleton keeps Pompey focus

Michael Appleton. Picture: Barry Zee
Michael Appleton. Picture: Barry Zee

Michael Appleton admitted he is in the dark about what lies ahead for Pompey.

The new Blues boss spoke of his ‘difficult week’ in the wake of the arrest of owner Vladimir Antonov for alleged fraud and money laundering.

Appleton saw his troops collect their first point of his era with a 1-1 draw against Leicester on Saturday.

But off-field events are once more dominating at Fratton Park, with major fears for the club’s future again surfacing.

Appleton has received assurances staff will continue to be paid and business will continue as normal.

He is waiting for further information on that front in the coming days.

The 35-year-old admitted players’ thoughts will naturally turn to how the latest saga will unravel. But he is calling on them to keep their focus on the job of moving up the Championship.

He said: ‘It is difficult. I’m not trying to throw a blanket over it.

‘I’m the manager and I’m hearing things about the owners.

‘I’m hearing things about the people I’ve been interviewed by and told me about their visions for the football club.

‘They talked about a five-year plan and, as a young man, I wanted to be part of that as much as they did.

‘So it’s been a difficult week from my point of view.

‘I’ve had to do a bit of a balancing act.

‘David (Lampitt) has had a difficult week as chief executive. He’s kept me involved as much as he can.

‘But until anyone tells us anything I’m in the dark as much as anyone else. I’m not going to be clever and say players don’t think and talk about it, because they do.

‘It’s my job, though, to get them to focus on the job in hand.’

Appleton revealed he addressed his players about recent events ahead of the Leicester clash.

He felt Antonov’s arrest and the possible consequences did not impact on their display against the Foxes.

Appleton demanded that continues to be the case.

‘I said to the players we have to get on with things,’ added the boss.

‘At the end of the day, we have to switch off and continue to play football.

‘We can’t affect all of the distractions which go with it.

‘We can’t do anything about that in any way, shape or form. All we can do is affect the performances. It didn’t have an impact on the game for me. If it did, it wasn’t from my side.

‘From our view we’ll turn up and train today. We’ll prepare for Coventry like we prepared for Leicester. My job is to focus on football.

‘There are a lot of players at this football club who have had more than enough experience of this type of thing.

‘There are a lot of staff at this club who know all about it, too. They have more experience of it than I do.

‘The only thing people want to talk about is what’s going on with the owners and that side of the club.

‘So I have to keep the players focused on game to game.

‘Hopefully then any distractions will be taken care of by the powers that be.’