Martinez on familiar footing
Published 18/04/2013 | 15:41
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez claims his team's past experience of relegation battles counts for little in their latest - and toughest - fight against the drop.
Wigan outplayed champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday but were beaten 1-0 after a flash of brilliance from Carlos Tevez seven minutes from time. The result left the Latics, who have staged dramatic late-season recoveries in each of the past two seasons, three points adrift of safety, albeit with a game in hand.
Martinez said: "We have been in this position before and know what to expect but that doesn't make it easier. It is going to be a really tough ending of the season and for me it is the hardest battle we have had for a few years but we are ready for it."
He added: "The performance was as good as it gets but sometimes getting the three points is out of your hands and that was the case. We have got things very clear. We need to perform exactly the same as we did here. If we do that the points will come, there are no two ways about it."
Wigan had not surprisingly gone into the game with confidence after reaching the FA Cup final and a run of six wins in eight games in all competitions. With their cup final opponents City weary after draining encounters against Manchester United and Chelsea, Wigan played the more enterprising football and created the better chances.
Franco di Santo forced Joe Hart into a brilliant save, Shaun Maloney had an effort cleared off the line and Arouna Kone looked odds on to score before a fine challenge by Vincent Kompany. They were made to pay when Tevez slipped two players on a typically tricky run into the box and rifled into the top corner.
Martinez said: "The plan was to accept we were facing one of the best teams in the world and even being perfect, we could concede a goal. Carlos Tevez invented that opportunity. We just had to play in a manner where we scored more goals than them.
"The overall performance was complete, we just couldn't find that clinical touch to score the goal. But if you assess the performance we were the better side and that is an incredible compliment to my players.
"The manner in which we stood up, the manner we kept the ball and opened Man City up, it was very pleasing to see. Tactically the boys were fantastic but it was one of those days in football when you realise you can control everything apart from the result."
Wigan have six more league games to play, starting with this weekend's trip to West Ham, as well as the cup final.