Martinez heartened by renewed team spirit
Friday 23 December 2011
The Wigan manager, Roberto Martinez, believes his side have gained some much-needed momentum to help get their fight for survival under way.
Wednesday night's goalless draw against Liverpool followed a 1-1 result against Chelsea at the weekend and took Wigan's haul from six matches to nine points, with just one defeat in that time so that they have clawed themselves off the bottom of the Premier League and are now just four points off 13th-placed Fulham.
"We have a bit of belief and a bit of momentum, more than we had five weeks ago," Martinez said. "In that period of eight defeats we did many good things individually but we never reached a level as a team with real belief and confidence and understanding of each other which allows you to play well and get the result.
"I only think we have played badly twice this season and that is something for us to adjust. The other games we have played well but it is not enough to play well – you have to be ruthless, defend like lions when you have to and be a team, and we showed all those attributes against Liverpool and that makes me proud.
"We keep working on the training ground and growing as a team and that allows us to have nights like yesterday.
"As a football club we want to be in the best league in the world and to have the two performances we have had against Chelsea and Liverpool I am sure the fans will be extremely proud."
The display against Liverpool was a demonstration of what Wigan are capable of when in top form. Having weathered a storm from the visitors in the opening 20 minutes, they got themselves back into the game and finished the first half the strongest. The running of Victor Moses caused Liverpool's defence problems all night and Martin Skrtel was fortunate not to concede a penalty when he appeared to connect with the winger midway through the opening period.
A rapid, 60-yard run by Moses at the heart of the Liverpool back four caused panic and goalkeeper Jose Reina had to punch away the 21-year-old's shot.
Five minutes into the second half Wigan conceded a penalty when Gary Caldwell's arm stopped Luis Suarez's overhead kick, but Ali Al Habsi saved from Charlie Adam, Liverpool's fourth missed spot-kick from five this season.
In an open and entertaining game, Wigan posed numerous threats to leave Martinez full of praise for his players. "It is not as if Liverpool had a bad day or were not physically strong or had players missing," the Spaniard said. "They showed why they have such a fantastic record away from home and defensively why they are a solid unit. But for us it is another step forward. The performance was at the level we expect and that makes me very proud."
Next for Wigan is a Boxing Day trip to face Manchester United, to whom they have lost all of their 13 meetings. "It is one of the hardest places to go in this league but we will enjoy the feeling after the Liverpool game, have a nice Christmas and then go into the game at Old Trafford," Martinez said.
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