Martinez plots stylish path to safety for Wigan

Manager insists Liverpool victory offered vindication of his team's passing game
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The Independent Football

Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez hopes the club's first victory over Liverpool will silence the critics who claimed his side could not play their way out of trouble.

Liverpool were second best throughout the 1-0 defeat, which was secured by Hugo Rodallega's first-half goal, and not because they were out-muscled but because Martinez's side showed more desire.

The victory, Wigan's first in eight matches, lifted them four points clear of the relegation zone and their Spanish manager felt it justified his decision to persist with a passing game rather than trying to scrap their way to safety.

"It is a huge result because of the situation," said Martinez. "It was very easy for people away from Wigan to criticise the style of approach to stay in the division. But we'll play how we want to play and to be able to beat Chelsea and now Liverpool is a clear indication we are heading in the right direction. When you beat a team like Liverpool it gives you that belief and it is important we carry on that in the next few weeks.

"It gives us confidence and belief that if you do things right on the pitch you can beat anyone. The players were frustrated by results. We weren't far away from getting a positive result but when it is not coming it gets harder and harder. We've thrown too many points away from winning positions but that comes with experience.

"Beating teams like Liverpool is part of the learning process. It is difficult to pick out a man of the match because you don't beat any side by having two or three players doing well, it needs to be a real team performance. With the way we want to play, and the way we want to win games, you need a certain level from every player."

Wigan face their near-neighbours Bolton Wanderers at the weekend and go into the game brimming with confidence, but Martinez said he would stress to his players there was still work to do.

"We are in a situation where we haven't much confidence but that win is as close as you can get to buying confidence," he added. "We needed this psychological boost and the players are already looking forward to the Bolton game.

"But the squad know we haven't achieved anything and they will be focused. It will be a different game against Bolton but we will be ready for it."