Meet and greet Latics players

Wigan fans line the way into the players' car park to applaud the players and collect autographs while wishing them luck for the final game of the season
Wigan fans line the way into the players' car park to applaud the players and collect autographs while wishing them luck for the final game of the season
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ROBERTO Martinez has called on everyone connected with Wigan Athletic to unite for the final push – starting with tomorrow’s visit of Liverpool.

Latics climbed out of the bottom three with the 3-0 victory at Reading last weekend, their second win on the trot and their ninth on the road in all competitions.

Six of Wigan’s remaining 11 matches are on home soil – where they have won only twice all season – with Martinez well aware of the need to raise their game at the DW to give themselves a fighting chance of avoiding the drop.

The Wigan fans have responded by reintroducing the ‘Meet n’ Greets’ that were such a factor in the Great Escape last term in time for tomorrow’s game.

And the Latics chief acknowledges that it’s all hands to the pump for the next 11 matches.

“We were already looking forward to Saturday’s game, but even more so now knowing the fans will be doing something so spectacular to help us to improve the outcome of games between now and the end of the season,” Martinez told the Evening Post.

“I know first-hand the influence the meet and greet had on the squad towards the end of last season, starting at the West Brom game in March.

“It provided the perfect backdrop for the players to prepare for the game in the perfect mindset.

“Having the fans welcoming the players into the DW Stadium helped set the tone for the performances that followed, and you can’t underestimate the importance on the players.

“What the fans did last year started the ball rolling, and inspired us to the great heights we reached at the end of the season.

“The quality and the effort was already there, it just needed something to spark it into life and the fans helped us with that.

“You saw at Reading on Saturday the quality that we have and what we are capable of, and the fans are a key part of the whole Wigan Athletic jigsaw.”

Latics have had a tendency in the past to pick up at this time of year - something Martinez is struggling to put his finger on.

“It’s probably a combination of a number of factors,” he recognised.

“The fans get really intense and passionate, and the players realise there is no margin for error.

“It’s been difficult to produce the form we tend to show at the end of the season over the entire campaign, but that has to be the overall aim.

“At the moment, there has been a big difference between the intensity in the first two-thirds of the season and the last third - and that goes for the fans, the staff and the players.”