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.”
- Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704.
Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.
Latest United news:
9:30am Saturday 4th July 2015
Darryl Eales says the only big regret of his first year in charge at Oxford United was the takeover was not completed sooner.
4:30pm Friday 3rd July 2015
Oxford United’s pre-season friendly against Coventry City will now take place at Nuneaton Town on Saturday 1st August (3pm).
9:30am Friday 3rd July 2015
A YEAR on from stepping down as Oxford United chairman, Ian Lenagan is convinced he did the right thing in selling a controlling stake to Darryl Eales.
9:00am Friday 3rd July 2015
RYAN Clarke has paid tribute to Oxford United's supporters after his six-year stay at the club ended yesterday by mutual consent.
4:14pm Thursday 2nd July 2015
RYAN Clarke has admitted it is a sad day but he leaves Oxford United with "amazing memories" after six years at the club.