Leicester City assistant manager Michael Appleton has been linked with a number of managerial jobs over the past few months and while he’s not ruling out going back to being a number one he’s got a warning for other young English coaches, writes Charlotte Duncker.
The former Oxford United boss Appleton was linked with the West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland manager jobs in recent months and while the top post at his old club Manchester United is the dream, he believes a Premier League job is out of reach.
“You don’t get the opportunity as an English manager to manage in the Premier League,” Appleton told The Offside Rule Exclusives.
“It is frustrating, but it’s the world we live in. There’s a lot of foreign ownership in football now and there’s this feeling that foreign coaches and managers have better knowledge and experience of the game, which is a load of rubbish.”
It’s not just the lack of opportunities which poses a challenge for Appleton, it’s the personalities involved.
“Players are definitely more challenging to manage these days,” Appleton explained.
“From the Championship upwards you are working with millionaires. They earn that much money they have a real sense of power.
“And ultimately there’s only going to be one person who cops it and that’s the manager.
“But, I just remember some advice Sir Alex Ferguson gave me: that if you can massage egos and learn and understand then you’ll be fine.”
That’s not the only piece of advice Appleton has taken from Ferguson. When he was sacked by Blackburn in 2013 the 42-year-old was “given a rollocking” by the former United manager for taking the job in the first place.
Even now, years later, that conversation still has an impact on decisions the former midfielder makes.
“After I was sacked by Blackburn Sir Alex was furious I hadn’t called him for advice before taking the job,” Appleton said.
“I made two poor footballing decisions after I left Portsmouth, taking the Blackpool job and then going to Blackburn.
“What I would say to other young managers is it is so important for coaches to do their due diligence on clubs and you have to speak to people and get advice.
“That advice from Sir Alex was the best thing that could have happened to me because it’s helped me to further my career and after that I landed the Oxford job.”
He continues to be linked with a move away from Leicester, but Appleton will be remembering Ferguson’s advice before making his next move.
“I can understand why I was linked with the West Brom job but for me it wasn’t the right time,” Appleton said.
“I have to get the balance right for me in the next couple of years and whether that means going back to a number one or establishing myself as a number two or a totally different role.
“People have a judgement when they look at me thinking I’m a meathead because of my physique and tattoos. The desire to prove them wrong and take myself out of my comfort zone is what keeps me going.”
What’s the dream job for Appleton after completing his Masters in Sporting Directorship?
“There are loads of clubs I would love to manage,” Appleton said. “I think being the manager of England would be the pinnacle of every manager’s career. Although, saying that I think it would be difficult to top being manager at Manchester United.”
Follow Charlotte on Twitter @CharDuncker
Launched in 2017, The Offside Rule Exclusives is our Webby-nominated monthly podcast hosted by Lynsey Hooper, Kait Borsay, and Hayley McQueen. It features in-depth interviews with some of the biggest names in football like Phil Neville, Jermaine Defoe, and Casey Stoney.