JAMES McCarthy has revealed mental toughness was the key to the historic victory over Manchester United.
Latics overcame the body blow of having at least a point taken off them by poor officiating at Chelsea the previous weekend to record a first-ever win over the champions.
They even had to contend with Victor Moses having a goal chalked off in controversial circumstances just before the break for a foul on goalkeeper David de Gea that not one United player appealed for.
But McCarthy admitted a dressing-room summit at the interval saw them rise above any feelings of injustice and continue to play their opponents off the park.
“It was frustrating what was happening to us, but what you need to do is put it out of your head, keep working hard and try to make the next one count,” McCarthy told the Evening Post.
“It happened to us at Chelsea, and it looked for a time like we were going to get done by another bad decision against United.
“But even though we all knew it was the wrong decision, the referee’s not going to change his mind once he’s made the call.
“We stuck together as a group, we had a good chat at half-time and we realised we needed the three points and we had to go again.”
Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday showered Latics with praise, saying: “How they are at the bottom end of the league, I’ll never know, because they play great football.
“They are as good a team as we have played against in the league this season.” McCarthy said the victory over the champions is one he’ll remember for the rest of his life.
“It’s up there with the best moment of my career,” he admitted.
“Obviously a couple of years ago we beat Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal here, but to beat the champions and the side eight points clear at the top was pretty special.
“The way we dominated the game from start to finish was an unbelievable achievement.
“We’ve been different class this year and it’s just that a few things haven’t gone our way.
“There was another one against United when we thought Victor’s goal should have stood.
“But we dug deep and we’ll never give up.”