Characters in Martinez novel clearly based on Wigan players

Publishing brouhaha ahoy! Novelist accused of lifting ideas from DW personalities

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Shaun Maloney has become the latest Wigan player to express concern that a character in Roberto Martinez'™s recently published novel is based on him, as the storm surrounding the Everton manager'™s literary debut grows ever fiercer.

Maloney is taking legal advice after becoming suspicious that a character in The Mechanical Tapir, a shy, slightly built landscape gardener named Stan Mahoney, bears more than a passing resemblance to him.

"œI probably wouldn'™t have even read [The Mechanical Tapir], until Arouna Kone asked me if the peroxide-blonde Ivorian cat burglar character reminded me of anyone," Maloney told

"œThen Ali Al-Habsi pointed out that the brilliant but unpredictable police officer who used to live in Bolton is called Abdul Omani. Then I started to wonder."

Further evidence that characters in The Mechanical Tapir are based on Wigan Athletic players is provided by a pair of scrappy Scottish brothers called McCarthur, an extravagant Austrian racing driver called Schorner, and a smooth, diamond-smuggling lounge singer called Roger Espinoza, who Martinez apparently forgot to rename.

The book, a picaresque romp about a mysterious café owner who develops telekinesis and fights crime during the Great Depression in a parallel universe where animals can talk, has won mixed reviews, with a number of critics praising its inventiveness while lamenting the fact that it loses its way in the final third.

Martinez is not the first manager to try his hand at fiction. Steve Bruce has published a series of novels, including Sweeper, Defender and Striker, though the fourth book in the series, In The Hole, was banned under the Obscene Publications Act.

Martinez is said to be untroubled by the controversy around The Mechanical Tapir and is instead hard at work on the sequel, about an immortal ADHD bassoonist who solves mysteries, provisionally entitled Evertown.