RM wary of newcomers' threat

12 August 2011 01:37
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez admits the last thing he wanted on opening day was to face another newly-promoted side.

But that is exactly what the fixtures computer threw up, and, as well as meeting Norwich at the DW Stadium on Saturday, Wigan will then take on Swansea and QPR in their next two matches.

Latics fans will need no reminding of the first game of last season, when they were hammered 4-0 at home by Blackpool, and Martinez is well aware of the dangers posed by Paul Lambert's newcomers this time.

He said: "I'm really excited and really worried at the same time because we've got a really tough fixture.

"We had the experience last campaign of playing against a newly-promoted side and, if you want to find an example of a winning mentality and winning momentum, no one is better than Norwich.

"What Paul Lambert has achieved, to get back-to-back promotions and the manner in which they play, with real bravery and real freedom, it makes them a very tough team to play at the start of the Premier League.

"We need to be well aware we need to learn the lessons from the past and we need to make sure we're ready to compete. You wouldn't want to play any newly-promoted sides early in the season and we're going to play all three of them.

"When you play certain opposition, there are better moments and worse moments during the campaign. There's nothing worse than playing a newly-promoted side at what is a really exciting time for them.

"They've got bags of energy and enthusiasm and a unique mental approach to the game, which is really hard to match. It's a tough fixture but we need to take responsibility and make sure we use the experience that we've got."

The Blackpool loss, which was swiftly followed by a 6-0 thrashing against Chelsea, set the tone for a season of struggle for the Latics.

But, despite being in and around the bottom three for most of the season, Wigan managed to dig themselves out of trouble when it really mattered thanks to back-to-back wins over West Ham and Stoke.

Martinez has no doubt the squad is stronger for last season's battles, and he added: "As a team you need to go through experiences to get closer, to unify your aims.

"I think the last game was the final achievement of all the hard work but I would say the level of performance and the togetherness we showed in the last 14 games has brought the squad to a different level.

"First, we know we don't want to be going through another period like that, and second it's taken us to another level in terms of understanding each other and knowing how to push each other and how to be competitive.

"It has a massive effect on how quickly you can fulfil the potential of a young squad when you go through experiences as intense and fulfilling as the ones we had last season."

Wigan are almost certain to be without midfielder James McCarthy after he twisted his ankle in the friendly win over Villarreal last week.

Antolin Alcaraz will also be given more time to reach full fitness following his run to the final of the Copa America with Paraguay but Colombia's Hugo Rodallega is available.

Source: Team_Talk