NO points, no goals from open play, no clean sheets – Oxford United’s start to Sky Bet League Two would give plenty of coaches sleepless nights.
But Michael Appleton does not come across as someone with a nervous disposition, even if three successive defeats represents the worst start the club have made to a league season since 2000/01.
While results are ultimately the bottom line, performances, which have been broadly encouraging, also matter.
The U’s head coach has had no trouble looking at the bigger picture as he attempts to implement his brand of football.
But if there are any fleeting moments of doubt, Appleton need only look down.
“There’s a saying ‘being defeated is a temporary condition, giving up is what makes it permanent’,” he said.
“It’s something I actually have on my arm because it’s something that is dear to me.
“It’s staying strong and sticking to your beliefs.
“As long as the performances are there it makes it a little bit easier.
“I think if you’re getting turned over in games 3-0 or 4-0 and getting absolutely murdered, that’s when it’s time to really start to worry.
“I’m not overly worried at the minute, I’m disappointed and frustrated because I think our performances have des-erved more.
“I’m not one of these managers who are going to start making up things, I think it’s plain to see what we’ve seen so far, that we deserve a few more points than we’ve got.”
There will be a section of United’s support who will remain unconvinced until results turn, but Appleton’s sense of perspective is only reinforced by the identity of tomorrow’s visitors.
Portsmouth offered him the chance to become a full-time manager in 2011.
He walked into a club sinking amid financial meltdown, leading to ten-point deductions in successive seasons.
A turbulent year later he left to join Blackpool.
It was an experience Appleton is not keen to repeat, but one he views as important in moulding his abilities as a team boss.
He said: “I do believe things happen for a reason, we don’t know why at times, but you do get tested as a character.
“I’ll be very surprised if I go through anything in my professional management career that comes anywhere near what happened at Ports-mouth with the goings-on, on and off the field.
“I think it will stand me in good stead for the rest of my career.”
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Latest United news:
6:40am Wednesday 1st October 2014
JAMES Roberts admitted it was extra sweet to score a winner for Oxford United against rivals Swindon Town, even if it came in a behind-closed-doors game.
3:26pm Tuesday 30th September 2014
JAMES Roberts came off the bench to score the winner as Oxford United came from two goals down to win 3-2 against Swindon Town at Roman Way.
9:00am Tuesday 30th September 2014
Oxford United’s position in the table is now a concern for head coach Michael Appleton, who has acknow-ledged it is taking longer than expected to improve results.
8:00am Tuesday 30th September 2014
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10:30am Monday 29th September 2014
MICHAEL Appleton admitted Oxford United were second best where it really mattered as they lost 2-0 at Luton Town.