Portsmouth adapting to new surroundings
When Michael Appleton decided to leave the comfort of the Premier League and the position as West Brom's assistant head coach for his first job in management at Portsmouth, he was risking his growing reputation, at a club where reputations fall with apparent ease.
As Pompey were plunged into yet another sea of misery and debt, Appleton must have wondered how he was the man sitting in the dugout, flanking the type of questions that no manager can ever truly answer.
The former Manchester United midfielder was stripped of the luxury of a honeymoon period, as owners Convers Sports Initiatives continued the money horror show for the south coast side.
Appleton continued to keep the fans informed, as best he could of the events occurring at Fratton Park.
Performances on the pitch were by no means fantastic but it says something about the man that fans didn't turn their back on him as a manager.
The wider football world also saw a man who was continually battling with the elements, as each problem was exacerbated by third party demands.
Most would have cracked under the pressure but Appleton remained the only voice of normality.
He recreated the siege mentality that Avram Grant started in the memorable 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup semi-final in 2010.
Back then, the Pompey faithful were still proudly wearing their Premier League badges but the Leeds United style motion of falling from grace was evident to all those who looked hard enough.
An indifferent start
Fast forward to the present and Pompey have experienced an indifferent start to the season.
The recent defeats to Carlisle United and Oldham Athletic, coming as they did after a decent 1-1 draw away at Colchester United, showed that despite years of Premier League football, the harsh realities of the lower leagues are beginning to hit home.
To criticise heavily however, would be a failure to look at the bigger picture.
Just two days before the season's opener the club signed 10 players, with the 11 on the pitch against Bournemouth making their competitive debuts.
Furthermore, young winger Jordan Obita, signed on loan from Reading, only met his new team-mates on the coach journey to Colchester.
A world of unpredictability
In reality, whatever Pompey achieve this season, it should be applauded that Appleton has somehow been able to construct a competitive squad.
Players like Brian Howard, Izale McLeod, Mikkel Andersen and Lee Williamson could have chosen from a host of new destinations.
Instead, they decided to move to the world of unpredictability and confusion.
That is testament to both Appleton and the fans, who continue to provide the passionate backdrop to all the ongoing mess in the boardroom.
With a pre-administration Premier League record that most clubs would be proud of, Pompey can expect teams to raise their performances when visiting Fratton Park.
The loss to Carlisle proved that much is still to be learnt and the road to success in League One is anything but simple.
However, if the players can knit together and form a cohesive team spirit, Pompey may just start to enjoy their new surroundings.
By Gary Peters
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