McManaman was vilified for his now infamous tackle on Newcastle's Massadio Haidara last month - although most of the backlash was due to the fact he escaped sanction from the Football Association.
The England youth international has now revealed how much he appreciates the Spaniard's backing, which has helped him continue his excellent form this season.
"There was a long wait after the Newcastle game for the next match, but what happened didn't get me down," said 22-year-old McManaman, who scored his first Premier League goal in the 2-2 draw with Spurs on Saturday.
"People around you help, but ultimately it's down to you as an individual to go one way or the other and having just got into the team, I was desperate to get back on the training pitch and make sure I was in the starting line-up for Norwich.
"When the gaffer put me in that team it was a big moment and from that point onwards I like to think that I've progressed and become a stronger part of the team."
McManaman has played a major role for Wigan this term, helping them to the FA Cup final - but the battle against the drop is very much at the forefront of their thinking.
"The past couple of months have been pivotal," he told the Daily Mirror.
"But it's all happened so fast that I've not really had a chance to stop and reflect, which is probably good.
"I've got my place in the team and I don't want to let it go because I've waited a long time for it. I want to stay here and help the team stay up."
James McArthur has hailed McManaman for how he reacted after the Haidara incident.
"He's a strong character," he said.
"A lot of bad things got said about him, but he wouldn't intentionally hurt somebody. He's doing his talking on the field and really lighting up the Premier League."