Tonight’s league game bigger than FA Cup final for Wigan, says Martinez

Premier League survival the priority for Wigan boss

Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero  lunges in on Chelsea’s David Luiz  during last Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium. The challenge generated much post-match comment with Luiz calling for an apology. Nick Potts/PA

Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero lunges in on Chelsea’s David Luiz during last Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium. The challenge generated much post-match comment with Luiz calling for an apology. Nick Potts/PA

Wed, Apr 17, 2013, 09:37

Roberto Martinez believes guiding Wigan Athletic into the first FA Cup final in the club’s history will be a hollow achievement should they fail to stay in the Premier League.

Wigan visit Manchester City in a dress rehearsal of the Wembley final tonight immersed in relegation trouble, with the third-from-bottom club three points adrift of Aston Villa but with two games in hand.

Martinez says his team has garnered added confidence following Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final defeat of Millwall.

However he will not deem the season a success if Wigan fail to remain in the Premier League for a ninth consecutive season.

“We’re not going to hide the fact that we have to achieve our aim in the league to feel we have had a successful season,” said the Wigan manager.

“I’m not going to deflect from that and try and hide behind the fact our FA Cup campaign has been a real success. The season will not be a success unless we achieve our aim in the league.”

Martinez says the league meeting with City has greater implications for Wigan’s future than a historic first appearance in an FA Cup final next month.

“In many aspects the league game is bigger,” he added.

Very stable
“I don’t think there are games which are more important than others. But if you are asking me what it represents for a club like Wigan winning the FA Cup final or staying in the Premier League, then staying in the Premier League would mean the next 10 years of the football club would be financially very stable.

“The new facilities that we have planned can happen and behind the scenes the club can go to a different level.”

Meanwhile, Manchester City assistant boss David Platt believes Sergio Aguero needs support from Manchester City against the “bullets” fired at him following his two-footed lunge at David Luiz in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final win over Chelsea at Wembley.

Aguero was not charged by the English FA for the 81st-minute incident and following the 2-1 victory David Luiz called for him to say sorry. Platt said he did not know whether he had done so.

“The opinion I have is there are a lot of bullets being fired at Sergio, and I think, like me as an employee of Manchester City, he needs someone to stand with him in the trenches and face those bullets.

“Sergio will do what Sergio thinks is right. I felt David Luiz spoke exceptionally well after the game, his words did not correlate to the headlines. I did not see him demanding any apology but there you go.”

Aguero escaped a charge as Chris Foy, the referee, awarded Chelsea a free-kick and though this may have been for an offence moments before the lunge as he is deemed to have viewed the episode as a whole and the FA’s regulations state there can be no retrospective action.

Platt agrees with the FA regulations. “I don't think we can analyse football matches on a Monday morning,” he said.

“If you want to analyse matches on a Monday morning you have to analyse the whole 90 minutes of every single game. In any given weekend there would be several incidents where players would retrospectively be banned, be put in the stands, be castigated – we would have all the media around it as well. The officials have a very, very difficult job.”

Guardian Service