McManaman urged to learn

Roberto Martinez has told Callum McManaman to learn from Arouna Kone after the striker gave Wigan a crucial win.

Last Updated: 31/03/13 at 21:12 Post Comment   

Callum McManaman: Backed by Martinez for big things

Callum McManaman: Backed by Martinez for big things

Roberto Martinez has told Callum McManaman to learn from Arouna Kone after the Ivorian striker propelled Wigan one step closer to Barclays Premier League survival.

Kone netted his sixth goal in as many games nine minutes from time to earn the Latics a priceless 1-0 victory over Norwich on Saturday.

McManaman, 21, made all the headlines in the build-up to the game as the fall-out from his knee-high tackle on Newcastle's Massadio Haidara two weeks ago rolls on, but it was Kone who stole the show at the DW Stadium.

The 29-year-old joined the club from Levante in the summer and has been an instant hit, scoring 12 goals in all competitions and providing the Latics with a consistent threat.

McManaman received vocal support from the home fans as he made his second Premier League start, with Martinez this week tipping him for senior England honours in the future.

The Wigan boss said: "Any striker that comes to the Barclays Premier League always takes a bit of time to settle in but Arouna Kone never had that period.

"From the first day that he arrived, he came on as a sub against Chelsea, he made a contribution. And his form was very good. He went away for the African Nations Cup and that was a real blow for us.

"Since he arrived I think we've seen a player that is desperate to help the team, to show what he can do, and the amount of goals he has and the manner he's getting those goals is quite impressive.

"You've got a striker who's played in Spain, Holland, Germany and now the British league. He's at the best moment of his career.

"The goals that he scored with Levante last season and what he's doing with us now show he's a man that's ready to pass influence to our youngsters. And I hope that Callum McManaman and the youngsters at the club can learn a lot from Arouna."

There were fears Wigan's great FA Cup run could compromise their league efforts but the two appear to have gone hand in hand, with the Latics winning five out of their last six games in both competitions and three out of four in the league.

They could well travel to QPR for next weekend's crunch clash out of the bottom three before a cup semi-final against Millwall at Wembley, for which they will be favourites.

Martinez said: "I know from the outside the table always is the exciting thing but for us it's the points tally. Thirty points is not enough to stay in this league unfortunately.

"We've got eight games left. It's a very good moment in terms of the performances that we're putting together now. The competition for places is the highest that we've had in the last four years.

"We're playing Queen's Park Rangers next week and, as you can imagine, every game left now is a significant one. And then we've got the nice distraction of playing at Wembley.

"It's a very important time for the football club, an important time for the fans but, when you see a team that shows that character, it's a proud day for the club."

Martinez stuck with the same team for the third game in a row, meaning captain Gary Caldwell and number one goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi again found themselves on the bench.

Martinez added: "They are incredible characters. They're fighting to be ready whenever the team will need them and they are a real reference to everyone in the squad. That healthy competition for places is what will allow us to finish the season strong."

Norwich find themselves being drawn into the relegation scrap after only one win in their last 14 league games.

Earlier in the season they went on a run of 10 games unbeaten, winning five, but manager Chris Hughton believes inconsistency is par for the course.

He said of his players: "They've always responded. Our season's gone very much up and down. We've had very good runs and we've had dips then other good runs.

"But I think that's the nature of clubs of our stature, it's very difficult to be consistent week in, week out. What we have been is solid, generally, we just need to make sure we can find the goals that are going to win us games."


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