Wigan Athletic boss on importance of 'belief' against Manchester United...and whether he'd swap FA Cup glory for Premier League

Shaun Maloney celebrates winning the FA Cup in 2013Shaun Maloney celebrates winning the FA Cup in 2013
Shaun Maloney celebrates winning the FA Cup in 2013
'Belief' - the buzzword of Wigan Athletic's Premier League battle against the odds, and the greatest FA Cup triumph of them all.

And after taking that mentality onto the field during his playing days with Latics, Shaun Maloney is now preparing to send out his Class of '24 with the same approach against Manchester United in Monday night's FA Cup third round tie.

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"I think there has to be belief," said the Latics boss. "We all understand the strength of the opponent, and we're very aware of the history of the club.

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"It will be very difficult, they have some very talented players who, on their day, can be some of the best players in the Premier League and in Europe.

"But we have to believe, and what I have to try to create is a belief in our team.

"So my players have to feel from me the belief that at certain parts of the game the talent we have in the group will come to the fore.

"We have to create a match that is very, very difficult for Manchester United.

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"Firstly we have to stop some brilliant players on their side.

"Because they're two divisions above us, how we defend will be different to how we defend in League One.

"But I'm not going to change our style of play, and I also hope there's a feeling within our group that this is a brilliant game to show the world the talent I know they have."

History is not on Latics' side, with United having won 18 of the 19 previous meetings.

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The exception, however, saw Maloney fire the only goal into the top corner of David de Gea's net during the 2011/12 run-in, which ended with Latics staying up and United missing out on the title on goal difference.

For the self-confessed United fan, Maloney learnt first hand the task in store for his players.

"During my experience of following United, they could do everything...they had a manager and captains who instilled that deep desire not to get beat," he said. "And that was always my experience of playing against United.

"If you wanted to fight them, they would fight you, and they would win. If you wanted to play, nine times out of 10 - or in our case, maybe a bit more - they would win.

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"What I will say in cases like this - and it was always the case for us in the Premier League - you have to go out with a belief from the manager that you can win the game."

Latics' FA Cup triumph in 2013 was, of course, followed three days later by relegation from the top flight after eight years.

However, Maloney shot down the idea anyone at the club would have preferred to stay up rather than win the oldest cup competition in the world.

"I remember that question being asked at the time, and I always loved playing in the Premier League, with Wigan," he added. "I loved everything about it, every game felt like a cup final...the travel, the opponents, some of the level of players we were playing against.

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"And the dream here - even though we've just been bought, and we're at the start of the journey - is to one day get back there.

"But no...I wouldn't swap the FA Cup win for Premier League status that year...no."