Latics travel to Blackpool on Saturday for what is the most important game of the season as a win could take Wigan out of the relegation zone and above Blackpool. The pressure on the two managers Roberto Martinez and Ian Holloway will be intense.
Superficially, it would seem that the two men have very different personalities and the teams have different styles of play. Martinez is the stylish Catalan, a scholar of the game whose team play a patient passing game. Holloway is the eccentric who is renowned for his comical outbursts. His team attack in numbers and create many chances but they have also conceded the highest number of goals in the league.
Roberto prefers the Spanish style so successfully employed by Barcelona, possession of the ball is everything, even if it means playing the ball sideways or backwards. His team usually plays a 4-5-1 which means there is rarely more than one player in the opponent’s penalty area.
Ian Holloway’s team play an attacking and fluid 4-3-3, against Wigan at the DW Stadium earlier in the season his players rampaged forward and overcame an inept Wigan 4-0.
Martinez is a thinker he is well-educated and cultured, with a degree in physiotherapy and a postgraduate degree in business management.
He is generally very controlled about what he says in front the media. Although he is not renowned for his controversial quotes, he was fined for his comments about referee Stuart Attwell and he recently said on Match of the Day that the foul by Chelsea’s Fernando Torres on Ali Al Habsi and the subsequent goal was a ‘football crime’.
Holloway is never far from the media spotlight and his quotes are never less than entertaining.
“Apparently it’s my fault that the Titanic sank. On criticism from Plymouth Argyle fans during Leicester City’s match against Plymouth Argyle”.
“I love Blackpool. We’re very similar. We both look better in the dark.”
“If you’re a burglar, it’s no good poncing about outside somebody’s house, looking good with your swag bag ready. Just get in there, burgle them and come out. I don’t advocate that obviously, it’s just an analogy”.
However, as well as these extreme outpourings Ian Holloway has stated that he has been influenced by Martinez. Before he joined Blackpool Holloway played long ball, 4-4-2, his press conferences were often more entertaining than the matches.
Then he had an epiphany on a gantry. He wanted to reinvent himself he wanted to be Roberto Martínez.
“I looked at what I was doing and there was fear behind every move I made, and I don’t want my players to play like that,” Holloway went on to say “I want to be free and attack. I don’t want to bore my way to a 1-0 win. “What made me realise was the year I had last year, when I was paid to watch other teams of a higher level that I’d managed in — not that I’d played in. I was sat above it and I could see the overall picture and pattern. There were people doing things that I didn’t do. I looked at why they were doing it and it was because of the space. I thought I’d rather be like that. I watched what Swansea did four or five times under Martínez and it was different”.
“He’s Spanish, his whole culture is different. I watched Spain play England and we were embarrassing. Spain were little and they kept the ball and they passed around us for fun, and I think that’s what it is all about — to inspire someone to get in the game with movement and understanding, to keep the ball and cherish it.”
So although Martinez and Holloway might seem quite different, they actually both aspire to the same style of football.
Although in public Holloway is regarded as outspoken and even eccentric, his private life shows a more sensitive side. Holloway met his future wife Kim when she was aged 14, and after marrying nursed her through lymphatic cancer. The couple have four children but three of them are profoundly deaf. He has worked tirelessly to give his three girls a good education.
He states,“We have been labelled as bolshie parents. My view is that every child in the world has the right to be educated properly and whether your eyes or ears don’t work is irrelevant. But the system at the moment makes if difficult.”
For the last three years of his QPR career, Holloway commuted daily from Bristol to London, a 250 mile round trip, so the children could attend a deaf school in Bristol. As a result he developed severe sciatica. They then moved to St Albans when the children were of secondary school age, for the same reason. Holloway has learned sign language, and his quirky media-loving quotes have made him a high-profile campaigner on deaf issues and concerns.
So Holloway is not so easy to pigeonhole, he is a more complex character than on first impressions. Martinez is often portrayed as calm and controlled but this does not mean that he is any less committed to the Wigan cause than Holloway is to Blackpool.
Holloway has assembled a team of attacking journeymen who are seemingly punching above their weight, Martinez has some of the best young players in the top flight but struggle to score goals, only time will tell who will triumph.