Roberto Martinez praises 'mature' Wigan after dramatic win at Blackburn

 

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez was ready to lead the celebrations after his side completed their remarkable escape from relegation last night.

Antolin Alcaraz scored the only goal as Latics snatched a late 1-0 win at Blackburn to secure an eighth successive season of Barclays Premier League football.

The victory took them to 40 points and safety with a game to spare - an incredible turnaround from the situation two months ago when they languished bottom with half of that tally.

Six wins have come in the last eight games with Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle among the sides beaten.

Martinez said: "It was incredible - it is an incredible achievement.

"I thought mentally we coped really well. We weren't our normal fluent selves - Blackburn made it difficult for us - but to come here and hold our nerve, and not panic, shows a real mature side of the squad.

"They deserve this incredible achievement. Eight seasons in the Premier League is something remarkable for our football club and I think it is time to celebrate."

It is the second successive year Martinez has engineered a dramatic survival after victory at Stoke on the final day of last season preserved their top-flight status.

This season's hoped-for improvement did not immediately materialise but Martinez never lost faith in his players, even when they suffered eight successive defeats early in the campaign.

The Spaniard said: "This group of players deserve huge credit.

"Since the window closed, the form has been as good as I have ever seen from Wigan Athletic at this level.

"It has to be a key moment in our history. We have to kick on and make the step up, not be a team that is always fighting relegation."

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan hailed Martinez's achievement and, having retained the 38-year-old's services last year when Aston Villa made overtures, reiterated his belief in the manager.

Whelan told Sky Sports: "I think Roberto has proved once and for all he is absolute top quality.

"I believe Roberto will go to one of the top European clubs when the time is right.

"Hopefully we can keep hold of Roberto for another two or three years. Eventually he will move on and he will go with my very best wishes and a big thank you from everyone at Wigan Athletic."

PA

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