Why losing start shouldn’t worry Appleton

Michael Appleton
Michael Appleton

A losing start to the Pompey career of Michael Appleton.

Not that it is any precise gauge to success, of course.

Let’s not forget, Paul Hart triumphed over Manchester City in his maiden Blues match in charge.

As for Harry Redknapp, he suffered defeat at the beginning of both his Fratton spells.

While Terry Fenwick experienced victory at Stoke and John Gregory’s team beat Shrewsbury.

Granted, Appleton’s first taste of match action at the Pompey helm resulted in a 2-0 loss at Watford on Saturday.

But ultimately it may have more significance on the players which produced such an abject display rather than the new boss.

After all, their places are now under intense scrutiny as Appleton contemplates making sweeping changes.

Still, it’s a quirk of football that in recent times newly-appointed Blues managers have endured instant disappointment from their first match in charge,

In fact, from the last six permanent managers, Hart is the only to have won that opening fixture.

Steve Cotterill, Avram Grant and Harry Redknapp also suffered defeat, conceding a staggering nine goals between them.

Tony Adams at least picked up a point on October 26, 2008, having taken charge with Joe Jordan for the visit of Fulham.

Following that 1-1 draw, he was appointed manager full-time, although his tenure would last a mere 106 days.

Then there was Hart.

The director of youth operations stepped up to take the reins after the dismissals of Adams and his number two Johnny Metgod.

His opening game saw the visit of big-spending Manchester City to Fratton Park on February 14, 2009.

What’s more, Glen Johnson and Hermann Hreidarsson netted to present the Blues with an outstanding victory in front of a crowd of 20,018.

It would prove to be one of only six wins during Hart’s 27 league matches in charge.

He would be replaced by Grant, this time asked to play the other team from Manchester at Fratton on his debut.

Wayne Rooney grabbed a hat-trick with Prince Boateng getting the Blues’ consolation in a 4-1 defeat on November 28, 2009.

Elsewhere, Cotterill started his reign with a 2-0 defeat at Coventry on the opening day of the 2010/11 campaign.

Then there is the most successful manager in Pompey’s modern history, Harry, who lost on his second coming.

Ironically it came at the club he would leave Fratton for, Spurs, in a televised 3-1 scoreline on December 12, 2005.

It heralded an appalling run of early form which took him to the brink of the sack, until Pedro Mendes intervened against Manchester City.

Mind you, the very first time Redknapp took charge of Pompey also ended in a loss.

That was a 2-0 reverse at Preston on March 30, 2002 – a year later he was on the way to taking the Championship title.

Delving further back into history, Velimir Zajec didn’t do too badly when the initial caretaker manager led the Blues to a 1-0 triumph at Bolton on November 27, 2004.

His eventual replacement, Perrin, also recorded victory on his debut, an eye-catching 4-2 result against Charlton at Fratton on April 9, 2005.

Former owner Milan Mandaric also oversaw instant impacts from Graham Rix and Steve Claridge.

Rix’s new team defeated Burnley 2-0 on March 3, 2001, with Luke Nightingale and Luke Panopoulos the scorers.

Predecessor Claridge also won at Fratton, a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday on October 14, 2000.

Not such good fortune for Tony Pulis, who lost 3-2 to Wolves on his Pompey managerial bow on January 15, 2000.

Rewind further and it was Alan Ball who replaced Bobby Campbell for the final encounter of the 1983/84 season.

That resulted in a 5-0 hammering of Swansea, Alan Biley, bagging a hat-trick. The England legend was afterwards awarded the job on a permanent basis.

His second Blues spell on January 31, 1998, opened with a 1-1 home draw with Sheffield United, Craig Foster the scorer.

Fenwick (February 4, 1995) and Gregory (January 21, 1989) would collect three points from their opening fixtures.

Finally, Jim Smith marked his maiden Pompey match with a 1-1 draw at Blackburn.

That August 17, 1991, fixture would see promising youngsters Andy Awford, Kit Symons, Darren Anderton and Daryl Powell all given starts.

And we all know what became of them.