Three points is a must for Shaun Maloney this weekend against Blackpool.
Latics head into the final home game of the season knowing that three points against Barry Ferguson’s Blackpool will confirm a place in this season’s Sky Bet Championship Play-Offs, and Shaun Maloney insists that will be the team’s aim in order to build momentum.
“It’s going to be difficult, it’s going to be hard to get our place in the play-offs first and foremost because Blackpool, Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers are all desperate for results themselves.
“If we get into the play-offs then the hard matches will continue, but that’s exactly what we want to be up against.
“To win against Blackpool on Saturday and get in the play-offs will be a big target reached especially for the manager when you consider how far he’s taken the team in just five months.
“I think it was a tall ask for the gaffer to change things around and he’s done that, so just to get the three points and make sure we’re in the play-offs is what we’re focusing on.
“We want to win this weekend and confirm our place this weekend because we need to make sure we go into the play-offs in the right kind of form.”
On Monday Latics’ 2-0 defeat to Burnley saw the Clarets celebrate promotion to the Premier League, and although Maloney says the scenes didn’t provide an immediate moment of extra motivation, he too hopes to be doing the same at Wembley Stadium in May.
“The main aim in football is to have those amazing days and celebrate accomplishments.
“I’m not sure whether seeing Burnley celebrating is an inspiring moment because we were disappointed with the defeat and in fairness to us we don’t need any more inspiration because we’re a very determined group of players anyway.
“You look at the celebrations they have had and of course that’s exactly what we want to be doing because we want to be back in the Premier League, that’s been our desire from the start of the season.”
Focusing on the Burnley game, Maloney admitted it’s difficult for him to comment on the performance, but says the team will need a mixture of improvement from the defeat and building on Good Friday’s performance in the 3-0 victory over Reading, adding:
“It’s difficult to comment too much on the game against Burnley because I was on the bench and didn’t get involved.
“The overriding feeling from the players who did play is that it just wasn’t good enough from us.
“The lads were disappointed with how they played, particularly because it came after a very good performance against Reading.
“Ahead of Blackpool it’s a little bit of both in terms of fixing what happened against Burnley and also building on the good work against Reading.
“The gaffer wasn’t happy with the performance because the defeat came so soon after a win and we need to pick ourselves up now for another big match this weekend.”
Maloney says he’s hoping to start on Saturday, just his third game since returning from long-term injury, and added that’s he feels in great shape ahead of the season run-in.
“Physically I’m feeling absolutely fine, the difference I’m feeling from the start of the season is absolutely massive.
“I’m playing and training completely pain free which is huge and I’m starting to feel like I’m back to my best.
“It’s been a long road for me, so if I get the chance to start again then I’ll be doing my best for the team and hoping to keep up my performances.”