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McArthur: Calm Martinez inspired Wigan in 2011

28 Jun 2015
James McArthur (top left) joins the celebrations as Wigan stay up

Midfielder remembers Wigan's escape from relegation in 2010/11, sealed on final day at Stoke

A fearless approach on the field and calmness behind the scenes from manager Roberto Martinez helped Wigan Athletic achieve a seemingly unlikely Premier League escape from relegation in 2010/11, according to midfielder James McArthur.

The Latics endured a tough start to the season, with a 4-0 opening-day defeat to newly promoted Blackpool followed by a 6-0 reverse at the hands of eventual champions Chelsea.

They spent the majority of the season in the relegation zone and their fate appeared to be sealed on the penultimate afternoon, going 2-0 down against fellow strugglers West Ham United at the DW Stadium.

But Martinez's men launched a stirring comeback - Charles N'Zogbia completing a brace and a 3-2 comeback win deep into stoppage time to relegate the Hammers.

McArthur, now of Crystal Palace, said: "I don't think you should fear failure because if you look at the positive side of everything; if you look at how you're going to win matches rather than thinking 'oh, no - what happens if we lose'; if you've got a good strong spirit and great characters in your changing room it always helps you.

Roberto Martinez is thrown in the air as the Wigan players celebrate
Roberto Martinez is thrown in the air as the Wigan players celebrate

"If you've not got that then there's a good chance you're going to get relegated."

There remained a good chance Wigan would be relegated on the final day as they were second bottom ahead of their trip to Stoke City.

"He was so calm, he was so positive. That's really important when you're down there, being such a positive person."

James McArthur on Roberto Martinez

On a remarkable afternoon, where five teams were fighting to avoid the final two relegation spots across four matches, Martinez's team turned in a nervy first-half display but managed to contain their opponents.

With the scoreline also level for Blackpool and Birmingham City on their respective trips to Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, and Wolverhampton Wanderers losing 3-0 against a virtually secure Blackburn Rovers, Wigan remained 19th as it stood.

Not that this was a situation to fluster Martinez, who made astute tactical changes to turn the match in Wigan's favour.

"He was so calm, he was so positive," McArthur added. "That's really important when you're down there, being such a positive person."

News filtered through of Blackpool and Birmingham falling behind, meaning a draw would be enough for Wigan.

But they made certain of a seventh year in the PL when Hugo Rodallega headed home Maynor Figueroa's cross 12 minutes from time at the Britannia Stadium.

Hugo Rodallega heads in Wigan's final-day winner at Stoke
Hugo Rodallega heads in Wigan's final-day winner at Stoke

McArthur looked on from the substitute's bench and found it to be a nerve-racking experience.

"I didn't play that game but it was one of the most exciting games I've ever watched, certainly one of the most nerve-racking," the midfielder said.

"Every single battle and decision on the day made you nervous. I think it was worse sitting on the bench rather than playing. When you're playing you just take care of your business."

Wigan and Martinez won seven of their final nine matches to secure safety the following season and, although they memorably beat Manchester City 1-0 to win the 2013 FA Cup final, they were relegated at the end of the that 2012/13 campaign.

McArthur, who moved to Selhurst Park last September, was involved in all of those ups and downs and he reflects fondly upon his time under Martinez at Wigan.

"There was so much quality in the changing room and we had a manager who was so calm under a lot of pressure," he added. "I think that led into the players. We kept playing the football that we wanted to play in the belief that it would get us the results. We did that and got out of it."

To read's review of the 2010/11 Premier League season, click here.

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