Gaffer wants competitive performance from players in final game of season
Roberto Martinez explained that Sunday’s Barclays Premier League encounter with Aston Villa at the DW Stadium will be an occasion for everyone to be proud of their club and reflect on another momentous season, even if league targets were not met.
Latics’ eight years in the top flight came to an end on Tuesday night following defeat to Arsenal, but rather than approach the final game of the season in a sombre, defeatist mood Martinez says the whole day should be about reflection and optimism, explaining:
“There’s much to be proud of and celebrate this weekend, and our achievements this year will help us to have reference and reputation in the future and aid us in moving forwards.
“Relegation is difficult to take, but we look back on over 300 games in the Premier League filled with incredible nights, amazing afternoons and wonderful moments.
“In the last four years we’ve been able to take on and compete with the best teams in the division, record some emotion victories and with the help of the fans continue to add to the incredible that is Wigan Athletic and always will be.
“Now is a time to be proud of how far we’ve come, reset our targets and be excited about the year ahead of us which involves European football and a Community Shield encounter back at Wembley.
“The football club is strong and in the best financial position it has ever been in, so there are many positives to look at.
“Overall we look back at creating history with our cup win and prepare to reset our targets for next season, ready to keep progressing and keep moving forwards.”
The gaffer explained that Wigan Athletic’s Young Player of the Season, Callum McManaman, is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after being carried off against Arsenal in the week, and that he could hand opportunities this weekend to those players who haven’t featured too often in the league this season:
“Callum McManaman’s story from Tuesday night is one that he doesn’t deserve, picking up an injury at The Emirates which will mean he can’t enjoy the feeling of the crowd on the final day of the season.
“He doesn’t need surgery, which is the good news, but will probably be out for the best part of three months after damaging the ligaments in his right ankle.
“He’s already begun his rehabilitation and is looking forward to a good break before coming back in time for next season, because it’s been his first real half a season in the professional game which he has had to come to terms with, but has done so superbly.
“Everyone else is fit and looking forward to the game and looking forward to getting rid of that feeling from Tuesday and creating a feel-good atmosphere for the fans.
“Certain players have individual targets still to hit; like James McCarthy who has started every game in the league this season which is an incredible example of maturity for a man of his age.
“There are other players in the squad who have been fighting throughout the season to be in the team and deserve a reward for their efforts.
“But the most important aspect is that we can be competitive and perform for our fans in the manner that we have done throughout the season to give the fans to send off they deserve.”