Martinez praises Cottagers boss
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has praised Mark Hughes for the job he has done since stepping into Roy Hodgson's shoes at Fulham. Hughes had a tough act to follow when he was appointed manager at Craven Cottage in July, taking over from Hodgson, who arrived in December 2007 and led the club from the brink of relegation to a record-high seventh place in the Premier League in the space of a season-and-a-half. Fulham then reached the Europa League final in May this year before Hodgson's defection to Liverpool. Hughes picked up the baton from there and has overseen one win, six draws and two defeats from nine league fixtures so far this term. It has been a steady start, but Martinez - whose team play Fulham in the capital tomorrow - thinks the Cottagers' prospects look good with Hughes at the helm. "I think that was probably the hardest job to take in Fulham's history if you look at the achievements Roy Hodgson had domestically and in European competition," Martinez said. "But they have changed the way they play slightly and they have bought one or two players who have given them a different dimension. "You just feel that Fulham will take the success of the previous two or three seasons and will use that to take the team to a different level. That is full credit to Mark Hughes." Fulham won 11 home league fixtures last term, including a 2-1 victory over Wigan in April. Martinez is anticipating a tough task on Saturday, but the Latics have not been beaten on the road this season and after sacrificing leads at Newcastle and at home against Bolton in their last two league games, the Spaniard feels his side will be fired up for the contest. "It is going to be difficult - I remember last season's game and I felt for the first half we played really well and we went 1-0 up," Martinez said. "But then all of a sudden, you see the strength of Fulham playing at home. They are very strong at set-plays, they know their ground really well and they take advantage of that. "They are one of those sides who just really enjoy playing at home and that is going to be difficult. "But when we have been away from home this season we have been really strong and compact and we've been able to hurt the opposition. "We feel we have dropped four points in the last two games and when you get that feeling, you just can't wait to get on the pitch." Wigan go into the match lying 15th - one place above Fulham - but they are only two points away from Sunderland in seventh spot. With the table so tight, Martinez is preferring for now to focus on the performances which have helped his team to a six-match unbeaten run in all competitions and the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup. "It is not the time to be looking at the table, but I am very pleased with the level of performance that we have been showing," Martinez said. "I think it is very early to try to see where you are in the table, because one or two points could make a difference of six or seven spots and it is not that realistic. "But I am very pleased with the work ethic, the togetherness we are showing and that understanding and the partnerships the players are developing on the pitch. "Slowly we are seeing that the competition we have in the squad is allowing us to compete in every game and we need to carry on with those standards and then see where the table reflects where we are around January or February."
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