It takes all manner of tricks to make a successful manager and Roberto Martinez employed a particularly artful ruse to inspire Callum McManaman to deliver the man-of-the-match performance that carried Wigan into the sixth round of the FA Cup for only the second time in their history, with an away tie against the winners of the Everton versus Oldham replay their reward.
"I told him I wasn't sure I would play him," Martinez said after the 21-year-old winger – a fringe player in Wigan's Premier League squad – had scored their first goal and set up the second, finished off by Arouna Kone, giving them control of the tie before half-time to allay any fears that Huddersfield, with a new manager in the dugout, might be inspired to pull off a shock result.
"Callum is a very talented winger but in previous games, when he guessed he was going to play, he got so hyped up the day before he wouldn't sleep and against Bournemouth and Macclesfield in the previous rounds he didn't last the 90 minutes.
"When I saw him in the gym this time I could see he was starting to get anxious again so I took him to one side and told him I was not sure he would start. I think he was a little bit angry but he slept better and when I told him this morning he was playing he was delighted."
After seeing their side beaten by Notts County and Swindon Town in the last two seasons, Wigan's 1,740 travelling fans probably ventured across the Pennines with misgivings, even though Huddersfield are struggling to keep out of trouble in the Championship after only two wins in 15 league games.
Instead, Wigan – themselves facing an uncertain future in the Premier League after one win in 13 – took control before half-time and, though their Championship opponents rallied for Mark Robins in the second half, there was never any real suggestion that the tide would turn.
Substitute Lee Novak headed a fine goal for the home side but by then Wigan had three on the board, capitalising above all on McManaman's fine performance. James McArthur effectively put the result beyond doubt with a sweetly struck third before Kone, despite being short on match practice after only one appearance in the African Cup of Nations, added Wigan's fourth with a thunderous finish two minutes from time.
The quality of football was not helped by the quality of the surface, which was poor, although only to be expected, given that the John Smith's Stadium is also home to the Huddersfield Giants rugby team, who by coincidence had hosted Wigan Warriors in the Super League on Saturday, winning 22-10.
The surprise in the circumstances was the footballers of Wigan, who like to think they can play a bit and took it largely in their stride, nullifying any advantage the Yorkshire side might have hoped to gain through local knowledge. Perhaps, for once, Martinez had reason to be grateful for the damage the Warriors have done to the pitch at the DW Stadium, another shared ground.
With a new manager to impress, you might have thought Huddersfield would be in the Premier League side's faces from the off. Instead, it was Wigan who hit the ground running. They would have gone ahead after 24 minutes had Kone been quicker to react to McManaman's cutback but did so after 31 in any event, McManaman doing all the work himself after McArthur's pass gave him a run, skipping past a couple of defenders before shooting strongly past Alex Smithies.
McManaman – a distant cousin of the former Liverpool and England winger Steve – had too much pace on the left flank for Huddersfield and he had inflicted more damage before half-time as Wigan took a firm grip. Again he was able to reach the byline with space to cause havoc with a pass across goal. This time Jordi Gomez was on the end of it and, though the player's attempt was blocked, the ball rebounded to Kone, who flicked it into the net.
Robins made changes at half-time, taking off Alan Lee, who had been his sole striker in the first half, and sending on both Novak and James Vaughan in a 4-4-2. But inattentive defending cost them a third goal as McArthur played a neat one-two with Jordi Gomez before firing a superb shot beyond the reach of Smithies.
Novak gave Huddersfield a glimmer of hope with a powerful header on the end of a Calum Woods cross, but they were not able to find the second goal that might have set Wigan's nerves on edge and their cause was lost long before a sloppy mistake by Anthony Gerrard allowed Kone to steal the ball and power home Wigan's fourth.
It did not impress Robins, who took charge only last week. "We were the architects of our own downfall," he said. "Wigan are a good side and if you give them space to pass the ball they will punish you."
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