Martinez says players are relishing survival task ahead of West Brom encounter
Roberto Martinez explained that although much is riding on this weekend’s huge Barclays Premier League fixture between Latics and West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns, his players are looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead and not letting nerves get the better of them.
The Spaniard says that reflecting on the numerous positive aspects of the last league game against Tottenham Hotspur, coupled with the huge number of fans making the trip to the Midlands, will help his team continue their good form and hopefully take the three points they need.
He said: “It’s an easy situation to approach because we’re desperate to play games at the moment, going into this final fight with good form behind us.
“Other teams around us have a greater amount of points which is their strength, but I would argue that our form is better in terms of the performances we’ve produced recently.
“Clearly against Spurs we did everything we had to in order to get three points, but were denied that by a freak moment near the end of the game.
“So as you can imagine, the players are desperate to play again and maintain their level of performance which was magnificent from start to finish.
“Another element of that game that really impressed me was the level of support we had from the fans. The atmosphere and environment we created at the DW Stadium was incredible, and when you see that you know you’re in for a strong finish to the season.
“I believe we have around 1,000 supporters making the trip to The Hawthorns this weekend which shows that it is ‘Wigan Time’ and that everyone at the club is ready to do their bit in ensuring the players are able to perform at their best.
“Fans will have seen results elsewhere over the last week, but my message to them would be to remember that this is still in our own hands and to be proud of our club.
“We need points, that is very clear but we also need to focus on ourselves and our games. If we do that then we’ll proud of each other in what we can achieve.
“Looking at results elsewhere only distracts you from what we’re doing, and for what it’s worth I think the Aston Villa – Sunderland results helps our situation in making sure it’s not just one other team involved in battle us for that final survival place.
“Every team that has yet to reach the 40-point mark is still very much involved in this fight, so there’s a bigger spectrum of teams still involved than many think.
“But if we carry on doing what we do and push the players into that belief-zone which makes us unique as a club then we’ll get to where we need to be.
“We don’t see the challenge ahead with fear; it’s quite the opposite to be honest. We’re desperate for the West Brom game to come around and go to The Hawthorns aiming to continue with our levels and go in search of the points we need.”
Martinez confirmed that Maynor Figueroa will miss the rest of the season with a groin injury, but has had positive news elsewhere in the squad with the near returns of Ben Watson and Antolin Alcaraz, saying:
“We’ve had a great week in terms of our preparations for Saturday’s game, but against Tottenham were obviously hit with the bad news about Maynor Figueroa’s injury.
“He’s been for a scan this week, which revealed our worst fears and that he’ll miss the rest of the season which is obviously very disappointing.
“I think since he signed for the club he has been the most reliable member and he really deserved to be a part of the team in these final weeks of the season.
“Elsewhere, there is good news with the recoveries of Ben Watson, Fraser Fyvie and Roman Golobart who is not far off full fitness now.
“Antolin Alcaraz is not far off a return to the team now; he’s still to join the rest of the group in training but I think the Swansea game is a more realistic target.”
Steve Clarke’s side currently occupy eighth place in the Premier League, and are on the back of a 3-0 victory at Southampton last weekend.
Martinez was full of praise for Clarke’s progress this season, saying:
“I have huge respect for what West Brom have achieved this season, Steve Clarke has done an incredible job in his first managerial role at the club.
“You can see the team has brought together all the good things from their past and that’s been mixed with the new ideas and focus of Clarke to achieve great heights.
“Tactically they’re flexible and can change their shape during games with ease, now fighting to keep hold of their place in the top eight places of the league which for me makes them the revelation team of the campaign.”