SHEFFIELD UNITED: Hats off to Pompey

Praised: Michael Appleton
Praised: Michael Appleton

SHEFFIELD United manager Danny Wilson has revealed his admiration for Portsmouth’s Michael Appleton ahead of tonight’s League One encounter at Bramall Lane.

Appleton left a secure job with West Bromwich Albion to take charge at Fratton Park just three months before this evening’s visitors entered administration for the second time in two years.

Despite that nightmare scenario, Appleton has steered Portsmouth to 15th in the table, 11 places behind United who slipped to fourth following Saturday’s round of fixtures.

Wilson told The Star: “Michael has handled himself with so much dignity. I’ve got nothing but respect for him because of that.

“I don’t think his reputation has suffered because of what’s happened down there. In fact, if anything, I think it’s actually been enhanced.”

Wilson, whose team are unbeaten in the competition so far this term, has seen his recruitment plans complicated by the introduction of new financial measures, including Salary Cost Management Protocol, which pegs wage expenditure to turnover. But Wilson’s frustrations pale into insignficance compared to those endured by his opposite number on the south coast as Portsmouth grapple with reported debts of £61m.

Trevor Birch, United’s former chief executive, has been tasked with ensuring the 2010 FA Cup runners-up survive.

The Pompey Supporters’ Trust were recently handed preferred bidder status.

Wilson said: “I don’t like commenting on other club’s affairs but although everything seemed to go wrong there pretty quickly, they were obviously mis-managed over a period of time.

“When you see the loyalty of Portsmouth’s fans though, the way they’ve stuck by their club, you know they’re going to turn a corner soon. I hope so because it’s a club steeped in tradition. It’s very sad to see because they’ve got terrific supporters and they’re a terrific club.”