Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Martinez: Safety like winning title

Roberto Martinez's Wigan have engineered remarkable escapes in each of the last two seasons

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez believes avoiding relegation for the third year in a row would be the equivalent of winning the Barclays Premier League.

The Latics have engineered remarkable escapes in each of the last two seasons and gave themselves a big chance of adding another this term by coming from behind twice to beat West Brom 3-2 at The Hawthorns.

"We don't just escape. As a football club we win the title every time we stay in the league," he said. "It's a different approach. Any other club fights to avoid something or fears to lose something; we don't. We don't fight to avoid relegation. It's not a negative - it's the opposite."

Callum McManaman was the match-winner, sealing the points 10 minutes from time after superb play by the electric Shaun Maloney. Prior to that, Arouna Kone and James McArthur had twice drawn Wigan level following goals from Shane Long and Gareth McAuley.

The win left Martinez's side still two points from safety with three games to go, but he only had eyes for the positives. Wigan could, of course, end the season with a trophy if they can upset Manchester City in the FA Cup final, but Martinez thinks survival is as good as any silverware.

He added: "We are still involved in two major competitions - the league and the cup - and we are ready to win both trophies. We showed we have a big club mentality in these players."

For West Brom head coach Steve Clarke, there was a frustratingly familiar issue to confront at the end of the match. Peter Odemwingie has caused his manager several headaches since his extravagant attempts to force through a move to QPR in January and he was greeted angrily by fans after being sent to warm up.

Clarke could not confirm whether Odemwingie exchanged words with the crowd, but admitted the incident prevented him sending the forward on.

"There was a bad reaction, the crowd let their feelings be known," said the Scot. "I don't know (the details) because I was watching the game. I asked him, Jerome Thomas and James Morrison to get prepared and I wanted to put on two from three.

"When he went out the warm-up there was a negative reaction and if I'm honest the crowd reaction made me go with James and Jerome. I still think Peter's got a part to play in some matches but we'll deal with it from game to game."

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