Michael Appleton’s Press Conference – Analysis

It was never going to be an easy one to listen to, was it? We were dire this weekend and in only losing 1-0 we perhaps came away feeling a little bit lucky.

It was a result the manager clearly did not take lightly and he made that abundantly clear in his post-match interview. Even at this stage of his tenure, comparisons are being made to our previous management and I’ve heard mention that players weren’t called out in the past. They were, 100%. I recall listening to Danny Cowley say things like ‘I know where I’m going’ several times. Trust, players were called out before and they’ll be called out again and rightly so.

Michael told me in our meeting a couple of weeks ago that the message would always be consistent and that he wouldn’t try to blag the fans when it came to the teams serving up rubbish. He kept true to his word this weekend when he blasted them on the radio and that was a message he also delivered at this morning’s presser.

“I’m pretty confident the performance will be ten times better, these things happen in football that’s not quite happened for me before so I suppose I’ve been quite lucky,” he is reported as saying on the club’s official website.

“You lose games as a manager and you expect that it’s part and parcel of the job. But in terms of losing games in the manner that we did, whether other people accept it, I won’t accept it so that’s why I was slightly angered. There’s always going to be a winner and a loser the majority of the time, but I won’t accept losing in the manner that we did on Saturday.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

“I don’t care if we were playing Liverpool on Saturday. There’s a way to win and lose a game, and that wasn’t a way to lose one. There’ll be changes (for Ipswich), I can assure you of that.”

He was seething with anger after Saturday’s game and despite seeming calm in his press conference, it’s clear the players were not in for an easy ride at training today. when asked about injuries from the weekend, he managed to get another shot in at his squad.

“Physically? Yeah, probably [they’re fine] because I can’t remember us making a tackle. Maybe mentally scarred, which you’d expect. If they’re not mentally scarred then they will be by the end of today.”

It’ll be a day where the punishment comes on the grass and not the video room though, as Michael revealed he won’t be watching the game back.

“No, I’ve made that decision,” he said when asked about watching it back. “I haven’t done that much in my career. We’d end up spending hours going over negative things. I think it’s important to discuss it, 100 per cent, but we won’t sit there for hours talking about it and watching a video. What good is that going to do?

“I’m not one for looking back, what’s the point? You’ve got to look forward. It’ll only affect what happens on Wednesday if we spend too much time talking about Saturday. Since I’ve been here the performances have been really good and I’ve been pleased with them. Yes, a couple of results haven’t gone our way. Did I see Saturday coming? No. But you’ve got to move on pretty quickly.”

It was a pretty straightforward interview in which he pulled no punches. I’ve seen some criticism of his approach in calling out the players, but I feel perhaps he’s been a little more considered than some give him credit for. There hasn’t been any single player named as being poor (and there were some who were worse than others), he hasn’t hung one person out to dry. The players would surely admit he is right to rant about the subsub-standard attempts to beat the Gills and therefore is he really causing any division by telling it like it is?

Courtesy Graham Burrell

You have to have a degree of respect for the supporters and if Michael had come out and tried to defend the players I think he might have lost some integrity. He could have lamented the loss of Joe Morrell, again, or the injuries to Bozzy, Freck and O’Connor that robbed us of four first-choice midfielders. He could have called out one or two forward players who completely unbalanced the middle of the park, in particular, a high-earner who was way off the pace this weekend. he didn’t though; he made it a collective bollocking without singling players out. They’ve got to take as much responsibility as Michael does; he’s the manager and his head is on the block, but he can’t get out there and kick every ball.

Whether I agree with the changes he made is irrelevant; I’m not the manager. For the record, I think it is admirable he is willing to make changes when things are not working, but he’ll only get the acclaim for that if those changes actually make a difference. Against Wimbledon, we took a player off when we were winning at half time and we ended up drawing, against Gillingham we took two off at half time when we were losing and didn’t win. If we’d gone on to beat Wimbledon, or if we’d managed to get a point at Priestfield, we’d be hailing him as a tactical genius. Instead, we’re left to look over the choices as armchair fans and wonder if they were right.

The manager’s job is always a tough one and it’s even tougher for Michael who could only ever go one way after stepping into the dugout; at one point early on in the season, we were top of League One for the first time since the early eighties. That wasn’t sustainable, it wasn’t a reflection of where we were as a squad and yet it does seem like the only way from there is down. However, one bad performance isn’t a reason to blast the manager, even if the results before that have not matched the effort we’ve put in.

That said, it is refreshing to see a manager pulling no punches in his press conference, let’s just hope it gives the players the shot in the arm they clearly need after a woeful trip to Kent.

5 Comments

  1. Completely agree. Gave the team a dressing down without naming anyone. No one can have any complaints about that. The only negative was that it set the tone for the social media rants in the evening, but that is not something he should ever have to give a second’s though to. Until later in the season when they will end up getting him sacked as is the way with modern football now.

  2. I think he’s chosen his words very well. No one individual, or even area of the team highlighted just a simple, blunt, collective ‘it really wasn’t good enough’. It’s clear it will be addressed with the players today and he has not only promised changes, but that things will be ten times better on Wednesday. The ball is now well and truly in the players court.

    There are lots of people who think we have a talented squad, it’s now down to the players in that squad to go out and justify the almost unqualified support they still get. It does make for a fascinating night though and one where the team selection will reveal an awful lot about our manager and his thinking.

  3. “if they’re not mentally scarred, they will be by the end of today”!! I actually laughed out loud when I read that! Good man Michael, even though I’m an advocate of the “arm around the shoulder” kind of encouragement, sometimes a good old fashioned kick up the arse is required! And this is definitely one of those moments.

  4. Playing Payne down the left does not appear to work particularly well… seems to unbalance the team. I think Michael is trying to find the right combinations to give us goals and he is still looking. On Wednesday I would switch Bruno to the left and give Harry a chance down the right. Technically lacking at this level but gives everything. Massive loss to have Oconnor and Morrell missing. Frecks to come back… for another hour at least. Encouraging to see Bossy travelled… he cant be far away now. Could be a surprise inclusion.

    • You’re right Payne is not a winger so either he plays as a 10 or he sits on the bench,simple.
      And yes, MA is trying to find the right combinations but if he won’t find them soon then it might be too late..

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