Sport

Getting to 40 points is like winning the league: Roberto Martinez eyes magical mark to save Wigan Athletic

By John McDougall & Matt Davies

Roberto Martinez is aiming for the magical marker of 40 points to guide Wigan Athletic to another season in England’s top flight.

The Latics boss lost out to Manchester City’s Roberto Mancini in the North West Football Awards Manager of the Year category, but instead focused on Wigan’s positive start to the season.

Forty points is the figure often associated with Premier League survival and Martinez is keen to reach that points tally as soon as possible this season.

“You get seven clubs that work in a different world financially and then you get 13 other clubs which all fight for the same thing which is to get to forty points as quickly as you can,” he said.

“Two years ago we did it in the 75th minute in the last game, last year we did it with one game to spare and this season all we want is to do it again.

“For us, it’s like winning the league like Manchester City.”

Hugo Rodallega, now of Fulham, headed the winner against Stoke in 2011, and a 1-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers in 2012 secured Wigan’s top flight status for an eighth consecutive season.

Wigan finished in 15th position last season, Martinez’ highest in his three years in charge at the DW Stadium, seven points clear of the relegation zone.

The ex-Swansea manager believes it is vital to keep picking up points, and he thinks the performance levels so far this season are good enough to keep the Latics in the Premier League.

“If anything we are disappointed with the return of points because the performances have been a lot better than that,” he said.

“Getting the results is what we want to achieve, we need to be as good as we can at what we are good at.”

Martinez also reflected on striker Franco Di Santo’s recent Argentinian call up, insisting that his player has matured and developed a lot in his short time with Wigan.

“Franco Di Santo is developing in to a top footballer, he’s only 23 but he’s come on a lot,” he said.

“He’s only a young man and now he’s getting better and there’s still a long way to go, he can get a lot better.”

Di Santo will join up with a vastly experienced Argentine squad, and Martinez believes the chance to train and play alongside players like Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero will benefit his front-man.

He said he was surprised by Argentine coach Alejandro Sabella’s decision to call up Di Santo, but insists his forward, who has three goals this season, is ready for the challenge.

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