RM ready for last-day nerves

The Latics have taken their battle for Premier League survival to

the closing round of fixtures after a dramatic fightback against

West Ham last week. Charles N’Zogbia struck in injury time as Wigan

fought back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and lift themselves into a

tight five-way scrap to avoid the drop with Blackburn, Wolves,

Birmingham and Blackpool. Martinez admits Sunday’s do-or-die clash

at Stoke will be a fraught affair but takes encouragement from the

last performance. The Spaniard, whose side are 19th but just a

point behind 15th-placed Blackburn, said: “We need to learn from

last Sunday. “In certain aspects of the performance we were

affected by the occasion and the importance of the game. “We need

to remember we are human beings and sometimes the significance of

the three points can affect your performance. “We need to be well

aware of the threat and of how good Stoke are at home. “Before the

game against West Ham we had it clearly. “Our league was over, we

had played 36 games. We had to learn a lot from that period and now

we were facing two finals. “We have gone through the first final

and now there is the other half to go.” On the face of it, Wigan

would seem to have the most favourable final-day fixture as they

face a Stoke side who now have little to play for following their

FA Cup final loss. Blackpool must travel to champions Manchester

United, Birmingham are away at European hopefuls Tottenham and

Wolves face Blackburn at Molineux. But Martinez is expecting a

fierce contest at the Britannia Stadium as the Potters look to end

the campaign on a high after also losing heavily to Manchester City

in midweek. “Going into Sunday we know that Stoke have had a

phenomenal season, probably one of the best in their history,” said

Martinez, who has a fully-fit squad available. “They have found a

winning formula and Tony Pulis has found a group of players who are

very successful in what they do. “At home they are a very difficult

team to play against. “Unless we are as good as we can be in the

way we play, we are not going to have a chance to compete against a

side like Stoke.” It has been suggested Blackpool could unfairly

benefit if Manchester United, who play in the Champions League

final next week, choose to field a weakened side but Martinez does

not want to be drawn into that argument. He said: “Whenever you are

facing a team of the stature of Manchester United you know you are

in for a tough game. “All these stories of going to a place where

you are not going to find difficult opposition are from people who

are not involved in football. “You are not part of such a fantastic

football club unless you are a winner and have real pride in what

you do.” While Martinez is focusing only on his side’s task, he

admits he will find it impossible not to try to keep up to speed

with events elsewhere on Sunday. “Yes, you have to,” he said. “In

those situations you need to have as much information as you can.

“But we need to understand that we are second from bottom. “In our

position we need to make sure we give everything we have got to try

to get the three points.” Martinez, noted for his dapper

appearance, hopes to look on from the touchline at Stoke wearing

his favourite jacket. The former Latics captain’s lucky garment was

ripped in the celebrations after N’Zogbia’s remarkable winner last

week. “We are hoping it is going to make a good recovery,” said

Martinez, still finding time to joke despite the pressure on his

side. “I have had a few notes of good wishes and hopefully there is

going to be a good ending. “I normally have a jacket per season. It

gives me a good feeling!”