Appleton has thirst to succeed

Witney Gazette: Michael Appleton is happy to be starting his new job as head coach at Oxford United’s training ground at Roman Way yesterday Michael Appleton is happy to be starting his new job as head coach at Oxford United’s training ground at Roman Way yesterday

Michael Appleton says time out of the game following a turbulent start to his managerial career has given him a real hunger to succeed at Oxford United.

The 38-year-old started work as head coach yesterday, following on from his surprise appointment to replace Gary Waddock as part of a boardroom shake-up on Friday.

It marked a welcome return to day-to-day football for Appleton, 15 months after being sacked by Blackburn Rovers.

His 15 games in charge at Ewood Park were part of a baptism of fire as a manager, which included a year in charge of financially-stricken Portsmouth and a two-month spell at Blackpool.

Appleton believes he has a point to prove and is confident United is the place to do it.

He said: “I think it’s a very important move in my career, there’s no point in hiding that fact.

“You’ve got a very hungry, ambitious young coach who is desperate to do well and I hope with a little bit of luck, a lot of hard work and the right people around me we can be successful.

“It’s been a long time since leaving Blackburn and many opportunities have come up since.

“But I made a really conscious effort or decision, whatever you may think of it, the next place I went it had to be right for me. I just genuinely believe this is the right place for me.”

And Appleton thinks after coming through some challenging situations at his previous clubs, Oxford will be the ones to benefit.

“There will be certain scenarios and I’ll be very surprised if I’ve not gone through it,” he said.

“In a two-year period I think I’ll have gone through what most managers experience over 40 years.

“I’m well schooled for the trials and tribulations that can come up when you’re a manager, so hopefully I can use that.”

Appleton’s previous experience has come at a higher level, mostly in the Championship, but he coached in the top flight with West Bromwich Albion.

Despite the background, there were no qualms about taking a job in the fourth tier.

He said: “Three or four years ago when I was still at West Brom as an assistant manager in the Premier League, if I had an opportunity similar to what I feel this is, I would have done exactly the same thing.

“I think you’ll find very quickly that I haven’t got an ego. I enjoy coaching and being on the grass working with people who want to improve every day, as I do. I’m looking forward to getting started.”

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