Michael Appleton sure to have heeded Sir Alex Ferguson’s advice over Hibs vacancy

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Michael Appleton is sure to have heeded Sir Alex Ferguson’s advice when considering the vacancy at Hibs after recalling how he once got a ‘rollicking’ from his former Manchester United manager.

After Appleton’s 67-day reign at Blackburn came to an end in March 2013, the 43-year-old was summoned to a meeting by the legendary Old Trafford boss.

Ferguson was alarmed by the way the ex-United trainee’s management career was panning out following three separate ill-fated spells in the dugout at Portsmouth, Blackpool and Blackburn in just over a year.

Appleton, who is expected to be named as Neil Lennon’s successor at Easter Road, admits he was told in no uncertain terms that he needed to do his homework on his prospective new employers before deciding to take on the reins.

And he put that guidance to good use when he oversaw a successful spell at Oxford United from summer 2014.

Appleton said: “I remember I got a right rollicking off him once I left Blackburn for not calling him and speaking to him about the job before I even took it.

“He called me up about a week after I got sacked by Blackburn and invited me to the training ground at Carrington and he gave me a right good rollicking.

“There are two parts to his office, one where he had his office and the other was like the living area and I pretty much came in and said: ‘all right boss’ and he said: ‘go in there and wait for me’.

“I thought, ‘I’ve not been here for ten years and I’m getting told off’, but I walked off and sat down and waited for him to come and see me.”

In a newspaper interview in 2017, Appleton added: “I never said a word for half an hour.

“I went thinking he would give me some advice and I got the biggest rollicking ever. 

“He told me I had to do my due diligence when I went into roles. 

“I needed to do my homework in terms of the squad and what it could achieve, that type of stuff. Because he said the truth about football management is you’re only as good as your players. And that was invaluable. That was exactly what I did before I came here (Oxford).”

Appleton enjoyed success at Oxford after the former Preston and West Brom midfielder guided the club to promotion to League One and to two Football League Trophy finals at Wembley.

The Salford-born manager, whose playing career came to a premature end in 2003 at the age of 27 due to a serious knee injury, also masterminded eight cup victories over opponents from higher divisions.

Appleton remembered Ferguson’s advice when weighing up the Oxford post. 

Speaking to coachesvoice.com, he said: “If I was going to be a manager of any ilk, the next one was massive. It had to be the right job. 

“As long as it was right, I was prepared to go in at any level.

“There were five or six opportunities that came my way, but they were all to keep clubs up – firefighting. 

“I just thought, surely, I’ve got to learn my lesson and say no to these clubs.

“I waited 16 months for the right club to come along.

“When I first went into Oxford, we were averaging 4,000, 4,500 fans. By the time I left, it was double that.

“Two things helped me to turn things around at Oxford. First: I read the book Legacy about the reasons behind the All Blacks’ success. I brought a lot of their thinking into the way I managed, and the way I dealt with players and people.

“The second one was the Masters I did in Sport Directorship. It was a three-year course that took me out of my comfort zone – I was never particularly academic – and gave me some of the tools I went on to use. It also led to me meeting Jonty Castle, who I ended up bringing into the club as head of football logistics.”

Appleton has been out of work since last summer after leaving his post as assistant manager at Leicester City following Claude Puel’s appointment to the dugout.

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