WIGAN // Ian Holloway, the jubilant Blackpool manager, will celebrate his side's staggering start to Premier League life by getting introduced to a new family poodle. While the club's supporters were celebrating an unexpected 4-0 defeat of Wigan, Holloway was preparing to drive back to the family home in Bath, 270km south of Blackpool. He hopes it is a short-term situation as, having been given assurances about his future by Karl Oyston, the Blackpool chairman, Holloway is preparing to resettle his family on the north-west coast of England.
"I am going to Bath to see my kids and my wife's new dog," he said. "A little poodle called Teddy. "Hopefully we can come back up on Monday and find a semi-permanent home. I am going to try and move my family up here because I can't stand how far it is and I want to stay here a long time." As he makes his way down the M6, Holloway will be able to reflect on the shock outcome at the DW Stadium. A first-half opener from Gary Taylor-Fletcher was followed by two from Marlon Harewood, the new arrival, that secured maximum points by the break.
Alex Baptiste's bizarre cross-cum-shot goal in the second period completed the rout that put them top of the league for three hours. "I will take a photograph of the table and then retire," said Holloway. A week that began with rumours of Holloway walking out on the club ended with a joyous return to the top flight, which Blackpool departed in 1971. Harewood's contribution just about summed it up. Released by Aston Villa at the end of last season, the 31-year-old was linked with a series of clubs, but ended up at Blackpool.
"Little Blackpool asked him to come on trial and he wanted to play for us," said Holloway. "Hopefully the chairman might help us out with a few more because reality tells me we need so many new players it is scary. Marlon has signed a two-year deal and is going to be pivotal for us. "I need a big, powerful unit up front and when we go to the huge places with tradition, Marlon has been there, seen it and done it. That is vital for my young lads."
Not that it gets any easier for Holloway and his team as a trip to Arsenal is looming next Saturday. Despite yesterday's result he just hopes "we don't get embarrassed". That is exactly what happened to Wigan, whose performance was branded "unacceptable" by Roberto Martinez, their manager. "I don't question myself," he said. "We have to find solutions within the squad but it was quite clear we never had the simple ingredients you require when you go on to the football field."
There is also the Charles N'Zogbia issue to address. Called into the France squad by Laurent Blanc last week, N'Zogbia is apparently set on a move away from the DW Stadium. He did not merit a place among Martinez's 18-man squad yesterday, with the Wigan manager claiming he was not in the right mental state to play. "We have to resolve the situation internally," he said. "The squad and the team are more important than any other individuals and it is too early to tell what will happen."
After being mauled by the team tipped to finish bottom, Wigan must now prepare for a meeting with the champions as Chelsea are next week's opponents. * Press Association