Roberto Martinez praised the influence of the travelling Wigan Athletic fans at Everton on Saturday afternoon in helping the team progress to the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time.
Around 2,500 fans made their voices heard inside Goodison Park, and were treated to a masterclass from their team who swept aside David Moyes’ side and claimed a 3-0 win.
Martinez hopes the fans will take great pride in preparing for a date at Wembley Stadium in the final four of the competition, saying:
“We knew we were coming here with a strong following, one that has never let us down in the past at places such as Blackpool and Blackburn.
“The players feel special playing in front of them and from the first second until the last they were magnificent with their voice so close to that side of the pitch.
“They influenced that period of play in which we scored three goals with some fantastic link-up play down the left wing.
“Everyone deserves huge credit for today’s achievement, but it was the fans who laid the foundations for it to happen.
“I’m proud for them because I know how much it meant to them to get to Wembley and enjoy some cup success, and I hope they in turn can be proud of their club.”
One of the first people Martinez congratulated after the final whistle was Dave Whelan, who had dreamt of taking his club to Wembley in the FA Cup.
The Gaffer spoke of how the players were also spurred on at the prospect of providing the Chairman with a day to remember at Wembley, saying:
“He’s created the story that is Wigan Athletic, and for so long has been giving so much to the club.
“Today we felt as though we could give him something back, and to take the club to Wembley in a competition he has so much history in personally is something very special.
“We’re proud to call him our Chairman and thank him continuously for the work he does to move the club forwards and I hope he can enjoy the occasion of an FA Cup semi-final Wembley.”
Analysing the performance, Martinez spoke of how pivotal Maynor Figueroa’s opening goal was, saying:
“The first goal was always going to be vital, so it was agonising to see Shaun Maloney’s shot hit the post early on, knowing how important it was for it to find the back of the net.
“In the past we’ve come to Goodison Park and played well, but haven’t kept the concentration or coped with the home crowd to take away a positive result.
“Today was completely different, and we have to be excited now at the prospect of playing at Wembley after such a performance.
“Our main priority is the league of course, and we must make sure to take this feeling into next weekend’s game against Newcastle, but for now it’s a chance for our fans to savour the moment and look forward to what will be a historic and proud date for our club.”
The only negative note from such a historic day, were the injuries picked up by Callum McManaman and Ryo Miyaichi, and Martinez updated us on their situation:
“Callum has a swollen ankle which we’ll assess in the week. It was a real shame he had to come off because he had started the game so well and scored a magnificent goal.
“Ryo picked up a very nasty knock and we’ll again look at that in depth over the next 24 hours. It was desperately unlucky for him and the boy doesn’t deserve that for the professionalism and hard work he puts in every day.
“But we’ll pay close attention to him and ensure he is given every opportunity to make an impact before then end of the season.
“Finally, Antolin Alcaraz was suffering from a bit of cramp in his thigh from the demands of the game and having not played 90 minutes for so long.
“We wanted to protect him and make sure we won’t miss his influence in future games because his performance was fantastic.”