Martinez: Wigan being bottom has taken pressure off

Spaniard stays calm as he prepares for battle against relegation, starting at fellow strugglers Blackpool
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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson has his horseracing, Steve Kean returns to the training ground, Carlo Ancelotti listens to music and Steve Bruce walks his dogs around the Sunderland complex before the start of every working day.

They are just some of the avenues that Premier League managers wander down in order to stave off the all-encompassing stress of doing their job in the top flight.

No manager can be said to be under more pressure at the moment than Roberto Martinez, whose Wigan Athletic side sit bottom of the league and visit Blackpool tomorrow knowing that a victory would bring them off life support whereas a 14th loss of the season would prompt calls for the last rites to be administered.

Yet Martinez, the eternal optimist, does not quite see life like that and escapes the rigours of dealing with football, by watching it instead. "This sounds strange but I relax by watching football," he said yesterday. "I watch between 12 and 15 games a week and I love watching football. When you watch football and have no problems to solve then that is a very relaxing way to enjoy life.

"I have a great television system that lets me watch all the games in the world and believe me it is a recipe for disaster for your relationship at home. It is just a relaxing way to spend time and finding a little bit of internal peace."

This sunny outlook is perhaps the reason why his blood pressure was declared as "perfect" in a pre-media briefing health check as part of a Stroke Association publicity drive.

One look at the league table would be enough to send most managers stumbling towards the doctor's surgery but Martinez is still so positive about the remainder of this season that he even claimed that being bottom of the Premier League is an advantage at the moment.

"When you are bottom of the table you are not scared because this is our opportunity; this is the last chance we have to get out of it," he added. "If you are fourth or fifth [from bottom] as we were last season then it can become very, very difficult because you do have something to lose and you feel that the good work throughout the season is going to be lost."

Martinez may not be renowned as one of the leading managerial eccentrics around, unlike tomorrow's opposite number Ian Holloway, and the Blackpool manager also seems to be able to compartmentalise the current stress levels he is encountering.

A season that has buoyed and entertained the football-watching public is in danger of ending in tears as Blackpool's vibrant, exciting start to the campaign has given way to a nervous disintegration that has led to just one win in 12. Tomorrow is huge for both sides.

Yet regardless of that, Holloway shares more in common with Martinez than just a wish to play attractive football.

"So far we have done this area proud and will continue to do that," Holloway said. "Pressure is when you can't pay your bills. I just hold the dreams and hopes and aspirations of the fans from the teams I pick and the way I ask them to play. I think we have played marvellous football this season. What more can you do? As long as you stared in the mirror and said you have done your best, you can't do any more.

"People will put up with it and thank you eventually. I don't wake in bed asleep at night worrying about us, that's for certain."