ROBERTO Martinez has called on his Wigan Athletic players to seize the day – and give themselves a relegation lifeline against West Ham.
Latics host the Hammers on Sunday knowing three points are realistically a must if they are to avoid the dreaded drop into the Championship. It’s also do-or-die for West Ham, who could get relegated even if they win at the DW, if other results go against them.
The Wigan boss, though, wants his side to focus on the positives ahead of one of the biggest games in the club’s history.
“If you look at the season as a whole, it’s been a hugely challenging year for a number of reasons,” Martinez told the Evening Post.
“But now we are in the best moment of the season, and we need to bank on that to get maximum points from the last two games.
“This is our big opportunity to show what we can do - it is not a situation where we have anything to lose.
“It is quite the opposite. It is an opportunity for us to succeed in our aims, which is securing another season of Premier League football for Wigan Athletic.
“We don’t want to get getting away from the fact that it is a must-win game - it is a cup final within a league season.
“But these are the days that you want to experience in your career, when you allow yourself to go on to a different level.”
It’s been an eventful second season in charge for Martinez, who has seen Latics improve game-on-game from last year - only for the bar to be raised across the whole division.
“Last season we were safe with 36 points,” Martinez acknowledged.
“This time we achieved that figure with two games remaining, and we’re not there yet.
“We’ve improved in many areas, such as goals conceded and the amount of games we’ve lost, and the next objective is to get 40 points on the board.
“The thing is, we aren’t playing against a side with nothing to play for.
“West Ham have their whole season on the line depending on this result, and they will be up for it - as will we.
“It’s important we make it our day at our stadium, and a day to be proud of Wigan Athletic.
“For that we need the whole crowd and the whole town to be pushing as hard as the players to get us over the line.”
Martinez is keeping his fingers crossed Charles N’Zogbia will be fit enough to feature.
The winger scored his third goal in four matches at Aston Villa last weekend after passing a late fitness on a dead leg, before being withdrawn with 20 minutes remaining.
“I was delighted Charlie managed to play as long as he did at Villa Park,” Martinez added.
“We didn’t expect him to be able to stay on that long, but he wanted to be on the pitch and make a difference.
“At the end, he got a little bit of a knock - but he should be able to be fully fit for Sunday.”