Appleton: We will fight to the end
MICHAEL Appleton insists Blackburn Rovers won’t give up on their play-off hopes until it becomes impossible – but admits they have to start accepting they are now a Championship club.
The Rovers boss attracted some criticism from sections of supporters in midweek for comments suggesting he was now preparing for next campaign, but he insists he was just being realistic.
Appleton has assured supporters Rovers will “fight like hell” to win all their remaining games but, seven points adrift of the top six ahead of this afternoon’s visit of Peterborough, fears they are facing a tough task.
He said: “We will be playing every minute of every game to give our utmost, as competitively as we can and fight like hell to get three points.
“If it is good enough after 12 games, fantastic, if we fall short it won’t be for lack of effort.
“It is difficult for people to digest the reality at times and take it on board. Sometimes you don’t like hearing the truth.
“You can say you were being honest but sometimes people don’t want to hear honesty. “The reality is we are now a Championship club, who could potentially be a Premier League club.
“To reiterate it again, once you get to the last six games then have a look at where you are and you will have an indication if you can still reach the play-offs. At the minute we have to concentrate onegame at a time. It is okay to get a bit carried away but seven points is a three game swing. It is not just winning three games, they have to lose three games.
“You do the maths. From my point of view it is going to be difficult but there are a hell of a lot of points to play for.
“No one wants to lose or draw a game. Every single game you go into you want to win, we want to win 12 games, we desperately want to win 12 games of football if we possibly can.
“The likelihood is we will lose a few. Regardless of where you are, Cardiff, Leicester or Hull, not one of those teams is going to win 12 games, I will put my mortgage on that right now. Not one of them will.”
Rovers were many people’s favourites in pre-season to earn an instant Premier League return, having splashed the cash on transfer fees and wages for the likes of Leon Best, Jordan Rhodes, Dickson Etuhu and Danny Murphy.
But, without a win in four league games and struggling to hit the top six after an inconsistent season, Appleton believes the campaign has been a reality check.
He said: “You have to respect the league. The two leagues are very, very different regardless of what people try and say. “I think the players have realised that sometimes you say on paper we should be good enough to win that game but you will find Championship clubs don’t care what name is on the paper, they don’t.
“They literally do not care what names are on that paper. There is a respect between all Championship clubs because they know how difficult the league is and they respect the league.
“Week in and week out, they know they are going to have a difficult game. “Saturday’s game at home to Peterborough is going to be as difficult as it was at Leicester. That is the biggest thing they have learnt after the last two away games.
“Peterborough play really good football, they knock it about, sometimes it can be to their detriment and hopefully that will be the case Saturday.
“My point to the players is if you think Peterborough will turn up and give you respect they won’t. They will have a right go and will be thinking they can turn us over. “They will look at the injury list and think it is a good time to play us. That is where we as a team, a staff and a club say bring it on. I expect a performance that we got against Leeds if not better.”