x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Avoiding the drop is like winning the cup, says Wigan's Martinez

Roberto Martinez, the Wigan Athletic manager, hailed his side's great escape from relegation, declaring after their 1-0 win at Stoke: "It's like winning a trophy."

Roberto Martinez, the Wigan Athletic manager, hailed his side's great escape from relegation, declaring after their 1-0 win at Stoke: "It's like winning a trophy."

The jubilant Martinez watched Hugo Rodallega head home a 78th-minute winner to secure top-flight survival after a dramatic day.

Said Martinez: "I'm extremely proud of this group of players and their achievement is phenomenal. We haven't chosen the easy route and it's a great feeling because this squad has been written off so many times in this campaign. "We knew we had the talent but in the last two games we had to show more than that.

"We were 2-0 down against West Ham [last week] and we needed a reaction and people with real responsibility and bravery.

"Again today we weren't ourselves in the first half and we had to defend for our lives. I am probably prouder of that side of the two performances.

"It was clear we were getting frustrated and we had to deal with that frustration. In the second half it became a little easier and we scored a very good goal."

Martinez went on to pay tribute to the three relegated sides - West Ham, Blackpool and Birmingham City - insisting the survival margin was so small that no club deserved to be relegated. "I don't think there were any bad sides who went down," Martinez said. "To get relegated on 39 points is harsh. It is the small margins that go with you and against you."

Martinez embraced the club chairman Dave Whelan at the final whistle and added: "To get a seventh season in the Premier League is a tribute to the chairman.

"The chairman is on cloud nine. He is an inspiration for everyone at the club and sometimes that puts you under extra pressure because you don't want to let him down."

Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, saw his side dominate the first half, and said: "It's gone Wigan's way. They rode their luck and good luck to them."