There is a subtlety to Roberto Martinez that makes him likeable, and perhaps explains why Dave Whelan extols his talents on television every week and why Liverpool were keen on his services in the summer. So when his team fell to their fourth Premier League defeat of the season in only their sixth game, he almost whispered the final run of results that saved his football club last season.
He was reminding his players that they can have ambition above yet another relegation fight, a possibility which only emerged in the midst of such a situation last season. Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Newcastle: Wigan beat them all in that period as his and his players' stock rose dramatically.
"If you look at our results from last season, we won seven and lost two and one of them was at Stamford Bridge," he said. "We felt we did really well and from the outset of the season we had the standards of a team that would not be fighting relegation.
"You don't like it when this type of result happens. This is a squad that's ready to kick on and achieve something better than just avoiding relegation. We had a really good start until the international break then we lost our focus a little bit and haven't had any sort of luck in the last two games. The quality in the squad is good enough to be fighting higher up the league."
Martinez spoke tentatively of an appeal against the red card given to Jordi Gomez for a reckless challenge that cost his side dearly but in the cold light of day that will not happen.
Wigan had created four good chances before then, Simon Mignolet had saved excellently twice, yet with Gomez gone came five minutes when his side wobbled and Sunderland, now armed with a dangerous forward, pounced. Steven Fletcher has made a huge impact since his £12m transfer from Wolves. His 47th-minute winning goal was his fifth in four Premier League games and gained his new side their first victory of the season. Martin O'Neill called it a vital win, and it was. Statistics change quickly. Sunderland are still unbeaten this season.
Sunderland: MIGNOLET 8/10; GARDNER 7; BRAMBLE 6; O’SHEA 6; ROSE 7; JOHNSON 6; LARSSON 7; COLBACK 6; McCLEAN 6; SESSEGNON 7; FLETCHER 8
Wigan: AL-HABSI 6; FIGEUROA 7; CALDWELL 7; RAMIS 6; BOYCE 6; BEAUSEJOUR 7; MCCARTHY 8; MCCARTHUR 7; GOMEZ 5; MALONEY 6; KONE 7
Goals: Sunderland Fletcher 51. Subs: Sun Vaughan (Johnson, 79). Wigan Di Santo 5 (Maloney, 61), Miyaichi (McArthur, 85), McManaman (Boyce, 85). Booked: Sun Fletcher, McClean. WA McArthur, McCarthy, Caldwell, Di Santo, Figueroa. Sent off: WA Gomez (47). Man of match Fletcher. Match rating 4/10. Poss: Sun 50%. WA 50%. On target: Sun 1. WA 3. Ref H Webb (Yorkshire). Att 37,742.Reuse content