Carlisle United boss Chris Beech says it will be an “honour” to pit his wits against Grimsby’s Ian Holloway tomorrow as the Blues finally head to Blundell Park.

United’s latest League Two trip is the first of their fixtures that fell victim to the Covid-19 pandemic in March last season.

And as the Cumbrians finally come up against the Mariners in a bid to extend their unbeaten run to five league games, Beech has spoken of his admiration for his charismatic opposite number.

Blackpool-born Beech says he cannot forget the inspirational impact Holloway had during his time at Bloomfield Road when he led Blackpool to the Premier League back in 2010.

United’s boss said: “He’s that good at what he does, it even makes me want to play for him. He resonates with his public, relates to being brought up in a council house, and it will be hard socially for him at the moment, because he’s very good in the public domain, in supermarkets and schools, these things you can’t do at the moment.

“He’s a master of psychology, he’s managed nine or 10 clubs, and he did ever so well for Blackpool, dealing with the Oyston family, getting in the Premier League. What a journey that was, it was just an orange army everywhere.

“To be going up against him on Saturday, I’m quite honoured actually.

“In terms of what he’ll try and do, he’ll turn it into some sort of backs-against-the-wall situation and his players will want to fight. Even if they’ve got one leg they’ll still go over the trench with him and try their best – that’s the sort of person he is.”

Beech added: “I think I [played against him] when he was player-manager at his beloved Bristol Rovers. It’s amazing that I’ve never really come across him on coaching seminars or courses. But being born in Blackpool, I know what he did for that club and have the utmost respect for him.

“He’s a master. He was a great player, and it’s been unbelievable what he’s done in his management career. He often threatens to resign then he wins the next game 6-0 – it’s just what he is. He’s an emotional character.

“I don’t know him personally, but I was born in Blackpool – I’m a Fleetwood lad and mums were shipped off to Blackpool Vic to have their babies – so I was born there, and he did great for that club. He took them to the Premier League and what a ride that season was from the outside looking in. That’s where I started my career, so I have so much respect for him.”

United, though, are currently in better form than Grimsby with the Blues sitting fifth in the table after taking 10 points from their last available 12.

The Mariners are 16th, having played a game fewer because of a string of Covid-enforced postponements earlier in the campaign, and have lost their first two home games.

Beech is happy to be heading to Blundell Park having recalled the unusual circumstances of their last visit, which was shelved on the eve of the game in March as the football season was suddenly suspended.

“That was strange, that,” he said. “That’s when the world changed to what we know it is now.

“I remember we were training at Penrith on the 4G, because the weather was that bad, our training ground was 10ft under water. We then got the call that the game was off, or possibly might be, not sure what’s happening – really, why? – it was strange.”

Beech said it is important Carlisle focus on their own strengths regardless of how Holloway sets up his side tomorrow.

He added: “I’ve read he’s considering changing shape.

“He was so successful with a 4-3-3 at Blackpool. Ian will tell you – he’s managed thousands of games – that players make good managers, and he had Charlie Adam quarterbacking it, Gary Taylor-Fletcher chesting and heading everything, Brett Ormerod on the left coming inside scoring goals for fun, Alex Baptiste in his prime, Matty Gilks in net…great team.

“Whether he changes shape or not, and we’ll know after five minutes if he does, we’ve got to concentrate on what we’re doing and to try and replicate it to the best of our abilities.

“It’s a game of football and we go into it trying to achieve three points, but we aren’t going to get them just because we say we want them, we have to get out there and earn them.”

It has been an emotional week for Holloway after he spoke in post-match interviews after Tuesday's defeat to Harrogate about the loss of a close friend to suicide.

He described it as “one of the worst days of my life”. Since then, Grimsby supporters have rallied around the Grimsby manager with members of an online fans' forum raising money to be donated to a charity of Holloway's choice.