Wigan Athletic’s historic FA Cup final appearance will be inspiration enough, believes boss Roberto Martinez as his side prepares to take on Manchester City for the prestigious silverware.
The Latics set a club record by reaching the semi-finals of this year’s competition – and then went one better with victory over Millwall to reach the final.
Despite facing five-time winners City, Martinez insisted the occasion and previous close results between the sides will be all the encouragement his team needs.
“It’s a unique situation,” the Spaniard told the club website. “You don’t get many opportunities to enjoy what the FA Cup brings. It’s a historic moment, a moment to be proud of.
“It’s such an easy game to manage from a mental point of view because it will get over a billion audience, and you’re playing at Wembley so it’s an incredible moment. You don’t need any motivation for that.
“I know what it means to the fans and to the rest of the footballing world to have our name alongside an FA Cup final playing the champions of England.
“I think in the last few games [against City] they’ve been games that could have gone either way. We left it for that big occasion to be able to compete against a phenomenal side.”
The team will be led out by four-year-old Joseph Kendrick, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder, and club chairman Dave Whelan, whose career ended with a broken leg in the 1960 Cup final.
Martinez hailed the owner of 18 years as an ‘inspiration’ and said stepping out first on the historic occasion is his fitting reward, after raising the club from Division Three.
“For him to do what he has done and be able to lead the team out, and the town of Wigan, on the Wembley turf is going to be an incredible moment,” Martinez said.
“To have our chairman lead the team out is a little bit of a full circle. Our chairman has got an incredible relationship with this competition as a player and he feels a bit of unfinished business.
“He had that vision ten, fifteen years ago and we’re all following it through. We’re very happy to have him here.
“I have never met anyone in football who has had such an incredibly loyalty towards his beliefs, what he wants to achieve and the way he has allowed me to work.”
Wigan will be without Maynor Figueroa and Ronnie Stam, who was injured against Swansea, while Antolín Alcaraz will have a late fitness test.
But Martinez insisted whatever team takes to the field will produce their best possible performance in the hunt for victory, as well as savouring the game.
“Every team you select is important but as a manager you asses what the team and what they do in training and in the games and football makes the decision.
“We have to be excited and make sure we go and enjoy the occasion but on top of that we need to be prepared to be competitive and prepared to win a football game,” he said.
“What we’ve done really well is whatever team has been on the pitch they have shown a real understanding of what was needed and performed really well on the day.
“What is important is to do what we did in the semi-final – to be ourselves and concentrate on the game.
“It’s going to mean a lot more once you have years to look back. Now we’re in the intensity of the week we’re enjoying and it’s about preparing for the game and getting ready to travel.”
Image courtesy of BBC, via YouTube, with thanks.