Wigan Athletic boss Roberto Martinez hails 'big day'
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez says his side's win at Blackburn, which secures their Premier League safety, represents a "big day" in the club's history.
The Latics' 1-0 win leaves them five points above the relegation zone with one game to play, while simultaneously relegating Rovers to the Championship.
"It is a big day in our history," Martinez told BBC Radio 5 live. "It is a remarkable achievement.
"These players deserve a huge amount of credit for what they have done."
The victory at Ewood Park - courtesy of Antolin Alcaraz's late header from a corner - ultimately secured Wigan's safety, but this was built on a remarkable run of results which has seen them win six of eight matches, including victories at Liverpool and Arsenal and over Manchester United and Newcastle at the DW Stadium.
"We have belief, but that comes through good results," said the 38-year-old Spaniard. "The key moment in the season was probably the result at Anfield.
"We had been playing really well without getting the results we needed and that game allowed us to believe that we could win games. From then on it was a very consistent run of form. It is a well-deserved return of points.
Prior to that run of impressive results, Wigan were rock bottom of the Premier League, but Martinez was full of praise for club chairman Dave Whelan and the fans for staying faithful to him and his players.
"The fans never lost belief in us or in myself and that allowed the players more of a feeling to try things," stated Martinez.
"Our stability comes from the chairman, who has been patient and a very strong-minded person. The football club follows in that lead and allows us to be a club which is together and facing adversity in a positive way."
Whelan, who played for Blackburn, was saddened to see Rovers relegated but was delighted to see his side secure their safety and hailed his manager's part in achieving that.
"I am really sorry we put Rovers down," said the 75-year-old. "I have mixed feelings a little tonight because I had 11 years at Blackburn [as a player].
"We had a tough start to the season but Roberto Martinez always believed and I believed in him. As the season has gone along we have played better and better and Roberto has proved he is a top-quality manager.
"Hopefully we can keep hold of him for another two to three years. Eventually he will move on and he will go with our very best wishes."
Martinez admitted it had not been a pleasant experience in the dug-out at Ewood Park, watching a tight and tense game played out in rainy conditions.
"It wasn't enjoyable because it was a bit of a scrappy game," he said. "You have to give huge amount of credit to Blackburn for the manner in which they played. They wanted to get a win and played with three up front."
Martinez also offered sympathy to opposite number Steve Kean, who has suffered abuse all season from his own fans and had to endure more on Monday night.
"Steve has had great integrity throughout and I know exactly how he is feeling," added Martinez. "I've been in that relegation scrap for a long, long time. That is what the competitive edge of this competition brings.
"He is a very strong professional and I know he will get stronger from this situation. We wish Blackburn a quick recovery and to get back to where they belong, which is the Premier League."