At the age of 27, Michael Appleton’s playing career was cruelly cut short, after the former Manchester United trainee was forced to admit defeat in a twoyear battle against a posterior cruciate knee ligament injury. But he remained with his club, West Bromwich Albion, in a coaching capacity, working with a variety of different age groups before rising up to first-team coach. And he further proved his versatility by assuming caretaker manager and assistant manager (to Roy Hodgson) roles.
Moving to Portsmouth in November 2011, the 37-year-old worked against extreme financial restraints to help keep the southcoast club afloat and competitive. After a brief spell in charge of Blackpool, Appleton switched to Blackburn Rovers in January 2013. He won three of his first five matches, as Rovers defeated Arsenal 1-0 at The Emirates in the FA Cup fifth round.