Roberto Martinez pointed to Latics’ slow start against Liverpool at the DW Stadium, and the performance of their goalkeeper Pepe Reina as key factors in his team’s 4-0 defeat to Brendan Rodgers’ side.
The home side found themselves 2-0 down after 20 minutes following goals from Stewart Downing and Luis Suarez, who scored a hat-trick on the night, whilst seeing efforts from Emmerson Boyce, Franco Di Santo and Shaun Maloney saved superbly by Reina.
Martinez did find positives however, highlighting the second-half display of Callum McManaman and the desire of his players to try and end the game on a positive note, saying:
“For the way we started the game we have only ourselves to blame. Giving goals away in any game makes life difficult enough, but against this Liverpool side with a real meaning in their performance, the start was always going to be crucial, and we were as poor as we have been for a while in that period.
“I thought the goalkeeper and striker for Liverpool were world-class; Pepe Reina produced one of the best goalkeeping displays we’ve seen here this season and clinical finishing from Luis Suarez.
“But despite the scoreline we didn’t give up, and the second-half performance was full of positives and determination, even though by that stage we had given ourselves too much to do.
“I thought Callum McManaman was magnificent when he came on, and gave a lesson in how to approach these kind of situations, with real enthusiasm and desire.
“His performance was very pleasing, as was the reaction from certain players in an impossible situation when the game can slip away.
“It’s disappointing, because in the last two games we’ve shown the high standards within the team, but we’ll move on and take the positives into next weekend’s game.”
The result means Latics are still looking for their first home win since November, and with five games remaining at the DW Stadium this season the gaffer is stressing the importance of turning results around in front of the home fans:
“We want to focus on our home form between now and the end of the season, so the defeat is disappointing and we’ll see this as an isolated game.
“We can’t allow ourselves to be that soft in any kind of situation, lacking concentration and defensive intensity.
“Overall, we need to learn from the experience, move on and make sure the next five games at the DW Stadium bring a more solid look to that.
“The group is experienced, and we all know what is expected in the coming weeks. We don’t want to move on too quickly because it’s important we reflect on the game and understand what happened.
“But their experience and the numbers we now have available is a big strength; it was great to see Antolin Alcaraz for example continue to get more time on the pitch, and the introduction of Callum was a bright note.”