Roberto Martinez was delighted to see his side ease to a 3-0 win in the final game of 2012, against Aston Villa at Villa Park on Saturday.
The Spaniard was particularly pleased to see his players produce another solid performance but offer more at both ends of the pitch which ensured a comfortable scoreline and a third clean sheet of the season.
He said: “What pleased me was that we were able to maintain the good aspects of our performances in recent weeks, which was the biggest challenge we faced at the start of the day.
“After that we needed to show that we could be better in both penalty areas; we got the first goal which is always so significant in these kinds of games and to keep a clean sheet gave extra meaning to the result.
“Replicating certain standards was important and players coming into the team gave us a real freshness and highlighted the competition for places we had at the beginning of the season and what we’re getting back now.
“So it was a complete performance with certain individuals producing big displays personally and I hope the fans, who have been magnificent throughout our tough spell, certainly enjoyed it.”
Over 800 Latics fans made the trip to the Midlands and Martinez said they acted as a catalyst for the result and provided a lasting image for the gaffer at full time:
“They made it feel like a home game because after the first goal the home crowd went quiet and our fans took the initiative to make their voice heard and push the players on.
“Being in the lower tier made a big difference because they we so close to the team on the pitch and you see a real chemistry between everyone – it was special to see and they all shared that feeling at full time which is the moment I’ll remember most from today.”
Martinez stressed the significance of the influence his players had at both ends of the pitch, saying:
“Keeping a clean sheet is a very pleasing aspect because you need to protect your goal and with a player who has the quality that Christian Benteke does your defence needs to keep their concentration at all times, which we did.
“Their intensity was magnificent and meant the quality we had going forwards could open up the pitch and create opportunities; the link-up play between Arouna Kone, Franco Di Santo and Shaun Maloney was of the highest quality and the scoreline could easily have been higher.
“We were dominant in both boxes which is what has been missing in recent games and we’ll aim to take that into Tuesday’s game against Manchester United.”
Finally, Ivan Ramis was one of two changes at the start of the day to the line-up with Franco Di Santo also coming into the starting eleven, and the Spaniard settled back into the team since his last appearance against Reading at the DW Stadium.
Martinez waxed lyrical on his defender’s contributions:
“He’s a top footballer and when you have that experience and know-how in your team it really helps the group.
“Today he wasn’t really fit to play the full 90 minutes but the character of the man got him through the game and his communication brought a solid outlook to the side.
“That was important in helping to keep a clean sheet, but then to see him provide a bit of magic at the other end was a special moment and something we should be getting used to after the goal he scored against West Ham United.”