Martinez sure Latics are better now

On that occasion, at the DW Stadium back on August 22, the Latics

conceded five having held the defending Premier League champions at

bay for 56 minutes. Martinez always stressed the result did not do

his side justice and believes they are much better equipped to cope

with United. “We all know the 5-0 defeat was not a clear reflection

of the performance, when I was very pleased for 60 minutes,” said

the Spaniard. “We are a different team to the one in the first half

of the season. “Physically we are a lot stronger, the partnerships

are there, the players have a clearer understanding and we can

change things around a bit. “Tactically we are more

multi-dimensional and in every aspect we have improved. “There is

still a long way to go because we are very thin on numbers and the

way we want to play we need to have that extra support. “But we

hope we can make our fans proud.” Boxing Day’s 1-1 draw at home to

Blackburn saw Martinez keep the same 11 players on the field for

the full 90 minutes – mainly to give those who had been so poor in

the first half chance to redeem themselves. Even with a couple of

days’ extra rest compared to most sides he is considering making

changes, although he will not follow the controversial move of

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy who made 10 changes for their recent

trip to Old Trafford. “We cannot afford to do it because we are

quite thin in numbers in that respect but we go into every game

trying to win,” said Martinez. “What happened in the first half

(against Blackburn) had certain needs and we changed things around

but had to keep those players on the pitch. “Manchester United are

completely different opposition with different demands and tempo in

the game so everyone should be ready. “The players that were on the

bench could have a good chance to be involved because we need

absolutely everyone and everyone has an opportunity to play. “Every

club has a different agenda but where we are now we want to go

anywhere in the Premier League and try to win a football game. “We

approach the game at Old Trafford with a big smile, praying and

hoping the Christmas spirit will be with us. You need to try to get

some positives out of it.” Martinez can at least expect a warm

welcome from counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson after the Spaniard

revealed they have been able to “laugh off” the media storm which

they were caught up in recently. A Spanish newspaper, in late

October, attributed comments to the Latics boss which claimed the

Football Association were afraid to punish Ferguson. The comments,

which Martinez categorically denies making, also suggested the

likes of Blackburn and Everton managers Sam Allardyce and David

Moyes were staunch defenders of the United boss and that Liverpool

boss Rafael Benitez was being targeted with constant sniping.

However, Martinez had a pre-Christmas meal with Ferguson,

Allardyce, Moyes and Stoke assistant Peter Reid and the Wigan boss

said the incident was not an issue. “It has happened to many

managers in the past and it will happen in the future,” said

Martinez. “What is important is to put the record straight and make

sure the names that are involved have a clear understanding of what

has happened. “Once that is done it is quite simple to understand

because we have all been in a situation when we know how exposed we

are and how easy it is for it to happen. “I think we have got a

good relationship, good enough to laugh off these situations. “It

is not an issue and it does not put any strain on our relationship

at all.”