Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has accused his side of a lack of character following another inconsistent performance on Saturday.
A 3-2 defeat to Birmingham at the DW Stadium, despite leading 1-0 at the break, leaves Martinez still searching for back-to-back wins for the first time as Latics manager.
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Wigan’s frailty was underlined by a wretched start to the second half during which the Blues scored three goals in 11 minutes.
Two free-kick strikes from Sebastian Larsson sandwiched a second of the season for Christian Benitez, elevating City up to the giddy heights of eighth in the Barclays Premier League on the back of a six-match unbeaten run.
As for Wigan, they continue to hover precariously above the bottom three and face a fight for survival unless Martinez can correct the flaws that were again on show.
“When you see the two faces of our play like we saw today, that is something I cannot accept,” said Martinez.
“In the first half we were really focused, in the game, we scored the first goal, and at that time if we’d scored a second we would have killed the game.
“At any level you have to score the second goal, and that makes a big, big difference otherwise you feel it’s for you to lose.
“That’s when you need to show that character, that leadership, that know how, to impose yourself.
“In the second half we knew Birmingham would push forward, and we should have imposed ourselves and dictated the tempo of the game, but we failed to do that.
“In a period of 20 to 25 minutes we didn’t show any direction, any character, and that was a disappointing period in the game.
“We let ourselves down, and by the time we reacted, it was a bit too late.”
Despite Charles N’Zogbia’s stunning first-half strike and a first for the club for Jordi Gomez in the 89th minute, this display has further underlined Martinez’s determination to strengthen his squad in the transfer window.
“In that period in the second half we just accepted what was going on on the pitch. We didn’t get hold of the ball, didn’t control it,” added Martinez.
“It was a very poor 25-minutes, and when you don’t have that character, that know how, it shows we need to increase the numbers and improve the squad.”
Blues boss Alex McLeish jokingly admitted to “feeling dizzy” such is the Blues’ lofty position, but one he feels is fully deserved.
“We’re showing we belong in Premier League,” insisted McLeish.
“When I was grumping earlier in the season about losing points from certain games, I felt then we didn’t look out of place.
“Now we are getting our rewards for those early performances and missed points, although we’ve had to learn the hard way in certain cases.
“But we know nothing has been achieved yet. I’ve been in the game too long for that.
“However, this should give the players massive confidence, and they are entitled to feel confident because they’ve earned it.
“Since the start of the season they have been resilient, bounced back from set backs in any given game, and they’ve got their rewards.”
McLeish insists there was no tantrum at half time following a poor opening 45 minutes, more a case of righting the wrongs.
“It was nothing heated,” replied McLeish when asked what he had said at the break.
“It was a calm exchange. I just felt we didn’t show the quality or sharpness we had shown in recent weeks.
“I thought we let Wigan bully us a little, so I asked the players to get a little closer to people, stop them making passes and the driving runs they were making in the first half.
“I still felt there was nothing in it, until N’Zogbia’s brilliant goal. Some things are difficult to legislate for, and the guy has shown that class against us.
“But we were a much more dangerous proposition in the second half when we upped our game, and some players took it by the scruff of the neck.
“I felt if we could get a goal we could go on and win it, and you saw the urgency of my players when it was 1-1, and that unnerved Wigan.