Who is Portsmouth's new manager Michael Appleton?

By Nabil HassanBBC SPORT

Portsmouth fans could well be forgiven for asking, "Michael who?" when the announcement of their new manager was made.

Even Michael Appleton described himself as a "dark horse" for the job in a race that saw proven managers such as Sean O'Driscoll and Steve Coppell interviewed.

But Portsmouth may just have pulled off a masterstroke in appointing him as Steve Cotterill's replacement.

Certainly Appleton arrives from West Brom, where he cut his teeth as a coach, with a glowing tribute from Baggies manager Roy Hodgson.

"All we can do is bemoan the fact it is a great loss for us and congratulate Portsmouth on appointing an excellent manager," said Hodgson.

"We will miss him and, in an ideal world, we would have liked him to still be here with us."

Born in Salford, Appleton began his career at Manchester United, and was a product of the club's famed academy scheme in the 1990's.

But the no-nonsense midfielder failed to make the grade at United, and reportedly asked to leave the club, when they signed Eric Nevland - someone he had fallen out with on holiday a few years earlier.

Appleton moved to Preston where he would play 145 times for the club winning promotion to Division One in 2000.

He originally joined Albion from Preston as a midfielder in January 2001 before a serious knee problem forced him to retire in November 2003.

The retirement was the subject of a legal battle with Appleton suing the surgeon who peformed the operation on his injured right knee. He later won damages, reported to be £1.5m

However, he turned his injury heartache into a positive when, at just 27, he embarked on a coaching career with the Baggies.

And as Appleton explains having his career cut short, fuelled his desire to become a successful manager.

"Over the two years I was injured (2001-2003) you go through different spells," he told BBC Radio Solent.

"And for a time I was a very angry young man with a lot of pent up frustration and disappointment and it took me a while for that to settle.

"You have the realisation that you won't play again and ultimately coaching gave me another drive and path towards getting something out of my own life.

"The drive I've got now to be a success as a manager is more than it was as a player because my career was cut short."

Positions Appleton held at West Brom included academy development coach, Under-18s coach, reserves coach, first-team coach and caretaker head coach. For a young man, he is hugely experienced and extremely motivated.

West Brom's sporting and technical director, Dan Ashworth admitted that Appleton had been targeted by several clubs in the previous few years, making Pompey's capture quite a coup.

"Over the past few years, several clubs have shown an interest in him but it was always going to take something special to lure him away from West Bromwich Albion," said Ashworth.

"With such a high-profile club like Portsmouth, who were FA Cup winners only three years ago and in the Premier League as recently as two seasons ago, coming in for him, we can fully understand why he wanted to take this opportunity."

Take this opportunity he has, and West Brom's loss could well turn out to be Portsmouth's gain.