Michael Appleton

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Michael Appleton
Michael Appleton.jpg
Appleton in 2009
Personal information
Full name Michael Antony Appleton[1]
Date of birth (1975-12-04) 4 December 1975 (age 44)[1]
Place of birth Salford, England
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)[1]
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Lincoln City (manager)
Youth career
1992–1994 Manchester United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1994–1997 Manchester United 0 (0)
1995Wimbledon (loan) 0 (0)
1995Lincoln City (loan) 4 (0)
1997Grimsby Town (loan) 10 (3)
1997–2001 Preston North End 121 (12)
2001–2003 West Bromwich Albion 33 (0)
Total 168 (15)
Teams managed
2011 West Bromwich Albion (caretaker)
2011–2012 Portsmouth
2012–2013 Blackpool
2013 Blackburn Rovers
2014–2017 Oxford United
2017 Leicester City (caretaker)
2019– Lincoln City
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Michael Antony Appleton (born 4 December 1975) is an English football coach and former player who is the current manager of League One club Lincoln City.

As a player, he operated as a midfielder, in a career between 1994 and 2003, his playing years being cut short by a serious knee injury. He began his career as a professional for Manchester United, which saw him serve brief loan spells at Wimbledon F.C., Lincoln City and Grimsby Town, before securing a permanent transfer to Preston North End in 1997. He moved on to West Bromwich Albion in 2001, playing at the West Midlands club for two seasons, ending his playing career there.

Following his retirement, he converted into coaching with West Brom, and served as their caretaker manager for one match after Roberto Di Matteo was placed on gardening leave. On 10 November 2011, Appleton earned his first managerial appointment at Portsmouth, before he became manager of Blackpool just a year later. After just over two months as Blackpool manager, he left his post with the Seasiders to take charge of Blackburn Rovers in January 2013. He was relieved from his duties on 19 March that same year.[2][3] In July 2014, he was appointed manager of Oxford United, and led the club to promotion to League One in his second season.

Playing career[edit]

Manchester United[edit]

Born in Salford, Greater Manchester,[1] Appleton attended Seedley Primary School and Buile Hill Secondary School, both in Salford. He represented the football teams of both schools, playing as a striker until the age of "12 or 13" before switching to midfield.[4] A lifelong Manchester United fan,[5] Appleton progressed through the club's youth system before earning a professional contract in 1994. He had a brief loan spell at Wimbledon in 1995, featuring in their makeshift squad for the 1995 UEFA Intertoto Cup along with fellow United players Graeme Tomlinson and John O'Kane.[6] In the 1995–96 season, Appleton was loaned out to Lincoln City for a month to get first team experience, playing four Division Three matches and one match in the Football League Trophy, before returning to Old Trafford.

In October 1996, Appleton made his Manchester United début in the 2–1 League Cup victory versus Swindon Town. Appleton's second and last game for the Red Devils was a 2–0 defeat at Filbert Street against Leicester City.

In January 1997, Appleton joined Grimsby Town on a two-month loan from United, scoring three goals in 10 league matches for the Mariners against Swindon Town, Barnsley and United's Manchester rivals; Manchester City. He returned to United in March 1997.[7]

Preston North End[edit]

In the 1997–98 pre-season, Appleton joined Preston North End for a (then) club record fee of £500,000. In his three-and-a-half years at Deepdale, Appleton played 145 first team games, scoring 15 goals. He also played an important part in the Lilywhites' promotion to Division One in 2000 as Division Two champions.

West Bromwich Albion[edit]

In January 2001, Appleton moved from Preston to West Bromwich Albion for a fee of £750,000, signing a three-and-a-half-year contract.[8] He made his début in a 2–1 victory versus Sheffield United, picking up a yellow card, and went on to play an important part in the Baggies' play-off chase, although they ultimately lost to Bolton Wanderers in the semi-finals.

At the start of the 2001–02 season, Appleton was a regular in the first team, but on 19 November 2001, Appleton tore posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee, after an accidental training ground collision with teammate Des Lyttle. He was initially expected to be out for the rest of the season.[9] With West Brom getting promoted to the Premier League, Appleton had to wait until February 2003 for his return to football, 28 minutes into a reserve team match against former club Manchester United.[10] In November 2003, at the age of 27, Appleton was forced to retire, after losing his two-year battle against injury. West Brom manager Gary Megson described Appleton's retirement as "One of the saddest days I've had as a manager, Football can't afford to be losing a player of his like."[11]

Appleton, who played his last first-team game of football in a 1–0 win at Birmingham City on 7 November 2003, made a total of 38 appearances for West Bromwich Albion.

"Having had my playing career taken away from me prematurely, I am all the more determined now to make a success of my coaching career"

Michael Appleton[12]

Coaching career[edit]

West Bromwich Albion[edit]

After the knee injury, Appleton stayed with West Brom in a coaching capacity. He worked in the youth side of West Bromwich Albion over five years. He worked with different age groups until moving up to the senior squad as assistant manager. In June 2009, Appleton was appointed first-team coach. After the board sacked Roberto Di Matteo and placed him on gardening leave on 6 February 2011, Appleton was placed in temporary charge of first-team affairs.[13] In his only match in charge as caretaker manager, West Brom drew 3–3 at home to West Ham, having been 3–0 up at half time.[14]


On 10 November 2011, Portsmouth unveiled Appleton as their new manager on a three-and-a-half-year contract; his first official managerial role.[15] Appleton's first League game in charge was a 2–0 defeat against Watford.[16] Appleton made two new signings in Joe Mattock and George Thorne on loan from West Bromwich Albion.[17] Appleton had previously worked with them when on the coaching staff at West Brom.

Appleton made his first permanent signing by getting Kelvin Etuhu on a free transfer after Etuhu spent eight months in jail for carrying out an assault outside a Manchester casino in February.[18] Following Portsmouth's fall into administration, Appleton insisted that he would not walk away from the club, vowing to "fight on until the end".[19]

Portsmouth were relegated from the Championship at the end of the 2011–12 season.


On 7 November 2012, Appleton was appointed manager of Blackpool on a one-year rolling contract.[20] His first game in charge was on 10 November 2012, a 2–2 draw at home to Bolton.[21] Appleton earned his first win as Blackpool manager on 1 December 2012, beating Peterborough 4–1 away from home, extending his unbeaten start to five games.[22] He was in charge for a further six League games, of which he won one, drew three and lost two.

After his resignation, he became the shortest-serving Blackpool manager in their history, with just eleven League games under his belt.

Blackburn Rovers[edit]

On 10 January 2013, Appleton was given permission to speak to Blackburn Rovers, and it was announced a day later by Blackburn that he had agreed to join Rovers as manager after just 65 days in charge of Blackpool. Appleton said of his move across Lancashire to Blackburn: "I am delighted to be joining such a historic club. This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I am excited about the challenge we have ahead of us."[23]

Appleton's first match in charge of Rovers was on 19 January 2013, a 2–1 defeat against Charlton Athletic at Ewood Park.[24] He earned his first victory as Blackburn manager on 26 January 2013, a 3–0 win against Derby County at Pride Park in the FA Cup fourth round.[25] A week later he recorded his first league victory, a 2–0 win at home against Bristol City.[26] On 16 February 2013, Appleton's Blackburn team defeated Premier League team Arsenal in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup at the Emirates Stadium.[27] Blackburn's surprising victory over Arsenal, however, was followed by a run of eight games without a win, with Rovers losing an FA Cup quarter-final replay at home to Millwall.[3]

On 19 March 2013, after poor results in the Championship, Appleton was relieved of his duties as manager of Blackburn Rovers, having only won 4 of his 15 games in charge. A brief statement on the club website said: "Blackburn Rovers FC can confirm that Michael Appleton has been relieved of his duties as manager along with assistant manager Ashley Westwood, first-team coach Darren Moore and head of senior recruitment Luke Dowling."[28]

Appleton's tenure at Blackburn lasted 67 days, two days more than his tenure at Blackpool. At his time of departure, Blackburn were 18th in the table, four points clear of the relegation zone, thirteen points adrift of the play-off places with only nine games to go.[28]

Oxford United[edit]

On 4 July 2014, Appleton became the new head coach of Oxford United, replacing Gary Waddock.[29] In his first season, Oxford finished in 13th place in League Two. The following season, however, Oxford finished 2nd with 86 points, achieving automatic promotion to League One,[30] and reached the final of the Football League Trophy at Wembley.[31] In his third season in charge, Oxford again reached the final of the EFL Trophy, but again finished runners-up.[32] They finished in eighth place in League One.[33]

Leicester City[edit]

On 20 June 2017, Appleton was confirmed as the new assistant to manager Craig Shakespeare at Premier League club Leicester City, signing a three-year contract.[34] After the dismissal of Shakespeare in October 2017, Appleton took over as caretaker manager[35] for two matches, both Leicester victories,[36] before the appointment of Claude Puel. On 30 June 2018, it was announced that Appleton had left his position at Leicester with immediate effect following a restructure of the coaching staff.[37]

Return to West Bromwich Albion[edit]

On 26 April 2019, Appleton agreed to act as first team coach to West Bromwich Albion caretaker manager James Shan until the end of the 2018–19 season,[38] speculation having arisen in previous weeks that he could become the new manager of the West Midlands club.[39] The move saw Appleton return to the Baggies following an eight-year absence,[38] where he linked up with former associate Steven Reid, who was acting in the same role as Appleton.[40] On 5 August 2019, it was announced that Appleton had been appointed as the coach of the Baggies' under-23 squad.[41]

Lincoln City[edit]

On 23 September 2019, Appleton returned to management, after being appointed at recently promoted League One club Lincoln City on a four-year deal.[42] He replaced Danny Cowley, who left to take over at struggling Championship club Huddersfield Town.[43]


"I am relieved finally to have received judgment and to be able to put this chapter of my life behind me"

Michael Appleton[12]

In June 2005, Appleton announced that he was going to sue the surgeon that he believed had ended his career early. The surgeon's name was not announced, and the case was set to start in early 2007.[44] In June, West Bromwich Albion Football Club began a £1 million compensation claim against knee specialist Medhet Mohammed El-Safty, whom the club described as "negligent".[45] If West Bromwich Albion had won the case, it could result in many similar cases, the appeal court was told.[46]

Appleton's case against Mr El-Safty was heard by a high court judge in Manchester, with evidence provided by Appleton's former manager Sir Alex Ferguson and former teammates Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, Manchester United's former captain. Appleton won his case[47] and on 23 March 2007 he was awarded £1.5 million in damages – thought to be one of the biggest pay-outs to an English footballer[48] – as El-Safty had admitted he wrongly operated on him. It was said that he could have earned £500,000 a year in the Premier League and the High Court also commented that his career could have lasted until 2009.[12]

Managerial statistics[edit]

As of 7 December 2019
Managerial record by team and tenure
Team From To Record Ref
P W D L Win %
West Bromwich Albion (caretaker) 6 February 2011 14 February 2011 1 0 1 0 000.0 [13][49]
Portsmouth 10 November 2011 7 November 2012 51 13 11 27 025.5 [49]
Blackpool 7 November 2012 11 January 2013 12 2 8 2 016.7 [20][23][50]
Blackburn Rovers 11 January 2013 19 March 2013 15 4 5 6 026.7 [23][49]
Oxford United 4 July 2014 20 June 2017 173 78 46 49 045.1 [49]
Leicester City (caretaker) 17 October 2017 25 October 2017 2 2 0 0 100.0 [35][49]
Lincoln City 23 September 2019 Present 12 3 3 6 025.0 [49]
Total 266 102 74 90 038.3


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  32. ^ Ashdown, John (2 April 2017). "George Thomas winner edges Coventry past Oxford to first trophy in 30 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
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  35. ^ a b "Craig Shakespeare: Leicester City sack manager four months after appointment". BBC Sport. 17 October 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  36. ^ "Leicester City 3 Leeds United 1". BBC Sport. 24 October 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  37. ^ "Leicester City Announce Restructure To Claude Puel's Coaching Staff". Leicester City Football Club. 30 June 2018. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
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  43. ^ "Danny Cowley: Huddersfield Town appoint Lincoln City boss as manager". BBC Sport. 9 September 2019. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
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External links[edit]