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Ian Holloway reveals Warren Gatland inspiration

Coca Cola Championship play-off final - Blackpool v Cardiff City
Venue: Wembley Stadium Date: Saturday, 22 May Kick-off: 1500 BST
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 live & online, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru, live text commentary online and score updates on BBC Sport website and highlights on The Football League Show. Live on Sky Sports 1

By Peter Shuttleworth and Steve James

Ian Holloway and Warren Gatland
Holloway and Gatland share admiration for each other

Ian Holloway has revealed Wales rugby coach Warren Gatland is one of surprise package Blackpool's secret weapons behind their Premier League charge.

Holloway's men face Cardiff City in Saturday's Championship play-off final and the Blackpool manager admits Gatland is a huge inspiration.

Holloway said: "Warren is a magnificent manager as when he talks, you listen."

The pair shared the same training facility when Gatland was at Wasps and Holloway managed Queens Park Rangers.

Holloway is one of sport's most animated and charismatic personalities while Gatland is a no-nonsense New Zealander so their unknown friendship makes them one of sport's odd couples.

But both coaches have fondly recalled their time together in London when music entrepreneur Chris Wright, founder of Chrysalis Records, owned both Gatland's Wasps and Holloway's QPR.

Warren is one of those people on my list that I wouldn't mind being a bit more like

Blackpool boss Ian Holloway

The pair shared a training ground for three years as Gatland, who arrived in the English capital in 2002, helped inspire Wasps from league strugglers to three-time Premiership champions and Heineken Cup conquerors in 2004.

Holloway was Loftus Road manager for five years and also achieved relative success in 2004 as he guided QPR to promotion from League One.

And he admits apart from his failure and subsequent Championship relegation at Leicester, his time spent learning from Gatland's training methods were his most inspiring.

"I learned more from my time at QPR from what the rugby were doing than I did at any time in my football career," Holloway told BBC Sport.

"The way they trained was fragmented, disjointed, they trained at any time of the day, they trained different parts of their team in different ways before coming back for a collective session - it was an education.

"And the management had folders on how much weights each player could lift - the preparation was phenomenal so I tried to pick their brains as often as I could."

Holloway has adopted the weight training methods Gatland used at Wasps since taking over at Blackpool - and the popular manager has transformed the Bloomfield Road club from mid-table also-rans to Championship play-off finalists.

Dave Jones says why he think Blackpool are a 'nation's favourite'

Meanwhile Kiwi Gatland, Wales' 2008 Grand Slam winning coach, remembered his time with Holloway.

"He used to take his QPR boys into our gym and point to the rugby boys and say 'this is how you lift weights'," said Gatland. "They did limited weight training.

"We each learned from one another - but he thought our boys were too big!

"It was good for him, though, as he saw the effort the rugby players put in as when they were in the gym, they really trained hard and had a professional attitude with the way they prepared.

"However, with the amount of games in football it is difficult to put in a similar volume of training like rugby players as Ian had to keep his players fresh.

"It was a good environment having a rugby and football team together we'd often chat and have dinner together.

"We knew the pressure we were both under to perform and get results and hopefully it was not just an enjoyable experience for me but for him as well."

Holloway's team are the form side heading into Saturday's play-off showpiece with just one defeat in 11 games but Cardiff, the 2008 FA Cup finalists, are unbeaten in seven meetings against Blackpool.

And Holloway believes the weight training methods taken from Gatland's blueprint has helped Blackpool punch above their weight.

"We've brought weight training to this group and we've done it all year," said Holloway.

Ian always gives 100 percent and creates a good environment and good atmosphere that his players seem to enjoy

Wales rugby coach Warren Gatland

"I know clubs do weights in pre-season but they forget it. We haven't, we have done it all season.

"It is difficult and the lads were moaning at one time around Christmas but we managed to see it through.

"But I learned more from the period of my life I was with Warren, than any other.

"I remember being in a meeting with the administrators of both clubs. And they were waffling on and Warren said 'excuse me, I am very busy but I think you need to do that' - and it ended the meeting and his advice was right.

"He says very little, but is says everything. I have the utmost respect for Warren Gatland. The way he does things, the way he is and Warren is one of those people on my list that I wouldn't mind being a bit more like. He is a magnificent fella."

Gatland is also full of admiration for Holloway who is chasing the biggest honour in his 14-year managerial career to guide Blackpool back into the top flight after a 39-year absence.

606: DEBATE
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"I have a lot of time for Ian," said Gatland. "He is a character and gives his heart and soul to football.

"He is passionate about sport and gets behind his team. Ian always gives 100% and creates a good environment and good atmosphere that his players seem to enjoy.

"In football the managerial tenure isn't long and Ian has been on the managerial merry-go-round so this weekend is great for him and I hope he enjoys it."

But national rugby coach Gatland insists his loyalty to Wales means he will be supporting Cardiff at Wembley on Saturday.

"I'll have no split loyalties as I'm 100% behind the Cardiff boys as promotion would be great for Cardiff and Wales," said Gatland.

"It will be a tough game and Cardiff have been knocking on the door for a few seasons and they've had well-documented financial issues.

"But Dave Jones, who ironically I now share a training facility with, has done a fantastic job as Cardiff manager and I'm looking forward to a competitive game."



see also
Cardiff fans face motorway chaos
19 May 10 |  South east
Cardiff warned over Wembley pitch
18 May 10 |  Cardiff
Cardiff ready for 'biggest' game
13 May 10 |  Championship
Cardiff 2-3 Leicester (agg 3-3)
12 May 10 |  Championship
Forest 3-4 Blackpool (agg 4-6)
11 May 10 |  Championship
Wasps 27-20 Toulouse
23 May 04 |  European Club
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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