Martinez demands Wigan be ruthless

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Wigan boss Roberto Martinez believes his side would not be in their relegation dogfight if they had a greater degree of ruthlessness.

Towards the end of his first season in charge of Wigan, Martinez is not surprised to see the Latics one place and four points above the drop zone.

The Spaniard always knew that in stamping his own mark and bringing in the players he wanted, it would be an uphill struggle for survival.

And starting with tonight's DW Stadium clash with Portsmouth, Martinez has just five matches to spare the Latics from joining Pompey in the Coca-Cola Championship next season.

"The Premier League is a ruthless one because of the quality of the teams. It is the best in world football, and that is challenging in itself," Martinez said.

"So I knew it was going to be hard, a test for not just the players and the staff, but everyone at Wigan Athletic.

"At any club, when you have such a big turnaround in the playing staff, then it is going to be tough.

"I always said my first year would be the hardest because we are setting standards and laying foundations for what we are going to do in the future.

"We are where we expected to be. I'm not surprised. Now we have to finish the season as strong as we can, making sure we reach our aim of staying in the Premier League."

Martinez feels certain results have underlined the potential of his team, but then there have been performances lacking the edge needed to grind out points.

"The performances have been a lot better than the points we have," he added. "We've enjoyed real highs, such as against Aston Villa, Chelsea and Liverpool, beating the latter two for the first time in our history which for me spoke volumes.

"They weren't just fluke results, they were excellent performances.

"But looking at others, with a little more know-how, ruthlessness, of knowing what's needed, we could have converted those into points and not been in the situation we now find ourselves.

"It's part of the process, part of the learning curve, which is the price you have to pay sometimes."

Martinez firmly believes survival will guarantee growth under his leadership.

"It's been enjoyable to see the standards we have on a daily basis," said Martinez. "The players are working for each other and we've a very strong core at the moment.

"The talent and potential we have in our squad is fascinating, and that's what gives me real pleasure in my work every day."

Martinez will again be without defender Gary Caldwell, who serves the second of a three-match ban.

Emmerson Boyce could return after missing the last three games with a back problem, but Hendry Thomas is doubtful with a quad injury.