Latics fightback secures point but Martinez sees room for improvement
Roberto Martinez praised the character of his players to rescue a valuable point against ten-man Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road on Sunday afternoon, with Shaun Maloney’s stoppage time free kick cancelling out Loic Remy’s opener.
Latics found life difficult after Bobby Zamora’s first half red card for a dangerous challenge on Jordi Gomez, and couldn’t find the opening goal before Remy capitalised on a counter attack five minutes from time only for Maloney to claim a point with his strike at the death.
Afterwards Martinez said:
“We needed a reaction after that and what we got was incredible, and showed a lot about what we are as a football club – we never accept defeat and a piece of real magic from Shaun Maloney got us the goal, which was as well an executed free kick as you will see in the Premier League.
“That character and attitude really pleases me and will help us a great deal for the rest of the season, but there is a frustration still that we couldn’t get on the ball and enjoy our football like we know we can.
“The sending off really affected the game; from that point onwards it was clear we were going to be the team enjoying possession and QPR were going to be solid and try and catch us on the counter attack.
“We dealt with that situation well enough but couldn’t perform in the manner we needed to and were as poor going forwards as we have been all season.
“Having said that we probably had too much time to think about things; the opposition go down to ten men and suddenly you’ve got a great opportunity in front of you to take all three points.
“That cagey approach affected us and meant that we couldn’t enjoy the game at all, despite controlling it and creating a great chance for James McArthur which Julio Cesar produced a fantastic save from.
“After that we had a rare situation in which we conceded from open play in a counter attack from our free kick on the edge of their penalty area – a wonder goal from Loic Remy but a disappointing one from our point of view.”
The result means Latics’ stretch their unbeaten run to four games in all competitions, but Martinez outlined the work to be done in the coming weeks to maintain that form:
“It’s clear that we need to focus on our performances in the coming games and how to find the answers to these kind of situations.
“It would have been all too easy to give up after their goal and feel sorry for ourselves, but the character they showed delighted me and will be important for us.
“It’s still really open at the bottom of the table and the points tally is probably going to be higher than we expected – maybe 39 or 40 points is the figure that is needed now to survive.
“The 31 points we have now will allow us to focus on the FA Cup semi final next weekend and look to regain the good form we know we’re capable of.”