As a crash-course in football management, Michael Appleton's first three weeks in charge of Portsmouth may take some beating. First Vladimir Antonov, the club's co-owner, was arrested and on Tuesday the club's holding company, Convers Sports Initiatives, was placed in administration, raising the prospect of a repeat – or worse – of the nine-point penalty incurred by Portsmouth during the 2009-10 season, which ended in their relegation from the Premier League.
Not exactly what Appleton signed up for when he agreed to leave his post as West Bromwich Albion first-team coach last month – but the former Manchester United midfielder believes that the clouds hovering over Fratton Park once again could have a silver lining.
"I've spoken to different people in football over the last few days and, if anything, it's probably going to make me a better manager quicker than I would have expected," he said yesterday. "I'm going to learn as much in the next 18 months as I would if I'd been in management for 10 years. So if I can do that – and I'm not brilliant at maths – I'll still only be 37, being 35 now, but have the experience of a 47-year-old."
Appleton was facing the media for the first time since CSI entered administration, sitting in the uncomfortable seat previously occupied by Avram Grant and Paul Hart, and manfully answering the same sort of questions they were asked on a weekly basis. They are not covered on many coaching courses.
So far, he said, the dressing room has not been adversely affected. "Players are a durable bunch," he said. "Some of them are very bright, but some of them are not the brightest and that's probably a good thing at times – and this is one of those times. The staff are different. They are the ones you trust and ask to stand by you.
"Because some of them have been through this before, I have asked them to give me their opinions on the situation. They said that people here won't be walking away, they'll be meeting the situation head-on and I was happy to hear that."
He added: "I'm not sure where the blame lies, but I've got a role on the football side. I've got to make sure we're still professional and don't take our eye off the ball."