Martinez: Blame me for mistakes

Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez. Photo: PA

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez was keen to emphasise after yesterday's 2-2 draw with Tottenham that the responsibility for mistakes made by his relegation-threatened team lies with him rather than the players.

The Latics, who went into the Barclays Premier League contest at the DW Stadium knowing a win would move them out of the drop zone, made a disastrous start, with ponderous play on their part in the ninth minute allowing Champions League-chasing Spurs to take the lead.

A hesitant exchange of passes between Wigan defender Maynor Figueroa and goalkeeper Joel Robles led to the latter cannoning an attempted clearance against the outstretched boot of the approaching Gareth Bale, and the ball rebounded straight into the net.

The hosts responded well and within two minutes were level through Emmerson Boyce's header, but a 90th-minute own-goal from the same player then denied them the precious victory it had seemed Callum McManaman's superb 49th-minute piledriver was going to secure.

Asked after the game about Robles, whose efforts in stoppage time were key to preventing Tottenham from snatching all three points, Martinez said: "I will always take responsibility for players giving the ball away.

"The way we play is the way we want to, and it is something that is going to give us a lot of goals at the other end.

"So I will take responsibility for that. But what I liked to see was the reaction. Football is a game of errors and we had one, but then at the end he (Robles) was magnificent."

Although disappointed at the result, having believed that the late Tom Huddlestone free-kick which hit Boyce and bobbled in should not have been awarded to Tottenham, Martinez was eager to give an upbeat assessment of how the match had gone.

Asked if the draw felt like a defeat, Martinez - whose 18th-placed side are now two points adrift of 17th-placed Aston Villa, their final-day opponents at the DW Stadium - said: "No, it doesn't.

"We are experienced enough to know that we have 12 points to fight for.

"We never make it easy for ourselves. But if you perform in the manner we did (against Tottenham), you know that you are going to be competitive in every game you go into."

Martinez singled out several of his players for praise, highlighting the job midfield trio James McCarthy, James McArthur and Jordi Gomez had done in keeping the likes of PFA Player of the Year nominee Bale quiet for much of the game.

The manager also hailed the contribution of McManaman, the 22-year-old forward who endured such criticism after his controversial tackle on Newcastle's Massadio Haidara last month but savoured a special moment yesterday as he celebrated the fierce drive from the edge of the box that was his first Premier League goal.

"He (McManaman) looked a real threat," Martinez said.

"He wins the corner (from which Boyce scored his header), and then obviously the goal that he scores from open play is of a real, real talent.

"I think you saw an incredible lesson of tactical awareness from James McCarthy, James McArthur and Jordi Gomez.

"I asked them to do something very difficult and they mastered it. I couldn't be prouder."

Martinez's men, who face Manchester City in the FA Cup final on May 11, are currently on 32 points and he is very much focused on the target of 40 as the requirement for guaranteed safety.

Wigan will be watching Villa host Sunderland tomorrow with interest, a day after Tottenham will have been closely monitoring their rivals for a top-four berth, Chelsea and Arsenal, in home clashes with Swansea and Manchester United respectively.

Yesterday's result took fifth-placed Spurs level on points with Chelsea - who had a game in hand over them - and a point behind Arsenal, and reflecting on the 2-2 draw, Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas said: "I think we did ever so well in the first half.

"In the second half, when Wigan scored it gave them the extra confidence and really shook ours. But we managed to come back into the game with a set-play.

"Everybody felt a win was important for both teams here and we really had a go at each other.

"It was an entertaining game and for what we did in the first half, I think probably we deserved a little bit better, but Wigan had some good opportunities too so I think 2-2 in the end is a fair result."