Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has told his players they should dare to dream about the possibility of an FA Cup final victory over Manchester City today.
Talk of the Latics’ first appearance in one of the showpiece days in the English football calendar has inevitably included discussion about a relegation fight they now look certain to lose.
Yet it is an undeniable truth that a win today will have an effect on Wigan that will last far longer than what league they end up playing in next season. And the impact of such a success is not lost on Martinez.
“You have to dream and the bigger the dream the bigger the achievement,” he said. He added: “Winning the FA Cup would be there forever. “Just arriving in the final is a photographic moment in the history of our football club. Winning a major trophy would take our club to a different level. We are all well aware what this could mean. There are a billion people watching this game.
“It is one of those key moments that help develop awareness. When we signed Roger Espinoza he was already a Wigan fan, which makes you aware of our exposure around the world is bigger than many people think. “But tomorrow is as good as it gets and we need to take advantage.”
City have their own reason to win — not least the pressure manager Roberto Mancini would come under if they did not.They are also overwhelming favourites and have won both Premier League meetings between the sides this season.
The matches have been close, though, which suggests Wigan do have a chance, although not if they serve up a repeat of Tuesday’s shocking defensive display, which saw victory turn into a shattering home defeat by Swansea.
Martinez’s problem is that his options are so limited. Maynor Figueroa, Jean Beausejour, Ivan Ramis and Ronnie Stam are definitely out and Antolin Alcaraz seems certain to join them on the sidelines.
It gives Martinez a tricky decision about fielding skipper Gary Caldwell, who was particularly poor in midweek, or Roman Golobart, who is badly lacking in experience, alongside Paul Scharner in central defence.
“The defensive problems are something we need to accept and find solutions to,” the Spaniard added. “I have never seen anything like the injury situation we have. But we have to cope with it. We won’t use it as an excuse. We need to find the answers.”