WIGAN manager Roberto Martinez revealed his careful handling of Callum McManaman had been key to the winger’s fine display in yesterday’s FA Cup fifthround win over Huddersfield.
McManaman was one of seven changes the Spaniard made for the 4-1 win, but was not informed he was starting the match by his manager until the last minute as he is prone to extreme nerves ahead of kick-off.
As a result, the 21-year-old only discovered he was in the starting XI yesterday morning, and responded with a goal and a solid allround display as the Latics reached the quarter-finals.
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“He’s a real talent,’’ Martinez said of McManaman.
“He’s an old-school footballer but he gets really hyped-up for the games, and we told him yesterday that he wasn’t playing so that he would not be upset overnight and just concentrate on having a good sleep.
“This morning when he found out he was delighted – and it showed in his performance because he managed 90 minutes for the first time this season.’’ McManaman – a distant relative of former Liverpool winger Steve McManaman – and midfielder James McArthur were two of the players recalled by Martinez and both shone.
McManaman struck a fine opening goal in the 31st minute and Arouna Kone tapped home a second shortly before the break to leave new Huddersfield manager Mark Robins with a difficult half-time team-talk.
McArthur struck a brilliant third early in the second half and although Huddersfield substitute Lee Novak headed home just after the hour, Kone added a late fourth.
Wigan are through to the last eight for the first time in 26 years, where a trip to the winners of the replay between Everton and Oldham awaits.
“It’s a great tie,’’ said Martinez.
Reflecting on his side’s cup run, he added: “What’s important as a football club is that you are capable of facing two competitions. I think two, three, four years ago, we never had the opportunity to have a pool of 16 to 17 players and now we have that strength.
‘‘After the changes that we made, we looked like a team, we had real understanding of what we were doing. And that is a real credit to the people behind the scenes.”