Premier League: Roberto Martinez's tips for staying up

Roberto Martinez

The stakes at the bottom of the Premier League have never been so high.

A starts for the 2013-14 campaign and the clubs clustered around the relegation zone are acutely aware of the financial rewards of staying in English football's top division.

QPR (20 points), Reading (23) and Aston Villa (24) occupy the bottom three places. Wigan are fourth from bottom, with goal difference separating them from Villa, while Southampton have 27 points.

Over the past three seasons Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has guided his team away from trouble and up to safety - and on two of those occasions his side have been bottom of the table with 10 games remaining.

Here the Spaniard gives BBC Sport an insight into how he has done it, and his first tip is to put down the calculator...

1. Don't torture yourself with the maths

"The moment you are trying to reach a specific points tally you are going to be clouding your aim. That would be very, very dangerous, because nobody can guarantee you what points tally will be needed. Throughout history 40 points has always been a healthy figure, but you can recall that there have been seasons in the past when it was not enough to stay up.

"Everyone in the bottom 10 is playing against each other, which means it is impossible to tell the points tally needed. The easiest way to approach it is with the mentality that you can get something out of every game and try to get as many points as you can."

2. Look back as much as forward

"Now is an important moment, one when you look back and get as much information as you can from what happened previously in the season.

"We need to draw on all the experiences that we have had so far. That is in every department, and from both the good performances and the defeats we have had.

"We try to use that by giving as much information as we can to the players. The more the players are prepared, the easier it becomes to handle the occasion and play the game. That makes a big difference."

3. Keep the faith and keep it simple

"It is about being consistent in the way that you are working throughout the season.

"Clearly there are some players who might need a different approach because of the amount of games they have played, but if you have been doing the same job for 28 matches the instructions and messages are going to be a little bit lighter and less complicated than early on in the season."

4. Take the media strain - but only if you need to

"If being near the bottom of the table was a new situation for us, I probably would look into trying to protect the players from the media and focus on trying to let them enjoy their football.

"In our case, every player in this squad has been through the experience time after time and it becomes a way of working. They know how to cope with that.

"I do understand that other football clubs might take into consideration taking the pressure off their players. At this stage of the season it is something different that brings players into the unknown and can affect their performances."

5. Accept that things won't go to plan and think on your feet

"Ideally you would try to rotate the team and share the demands but unfortunately football does not work like that. It brings you different situations that you need to handle.

"The reality is that you get injuries and moments of good and bad form and it is not easy. Sometimes the squad is not as big as you would hope and it is more a case of handling the day-to-day business and making sure the players are ready, whoever gets on the pitch.

"The reality is you need to find solutions on a daily basis to cope with the all the different realities and challenges."

Ten stats for the final 10 games

  • Of the 30 teams to have occupied the bottom three positions with 10 games to go over the last 10 seasons, 21 have gone on to be relegated.
  • Until Wigan's recent escapes, the last time the team in 20th place with 10 games to go survived was in 1996-97. Southampton climbed to 16th.
  • Wigan collected 22 points in the final 10 games of the 2011-12 season - the most managed by a team in the relegation zone.
  • The most places gained in the final 10 games is eight, achieved by Blackburn Rovers as they rose from 18th to 10th in 2001-02.
  • West Ham won 19 points in 2002-03 but remained 18th at the end of the season. No other team has gained so many points and failed to climb out of the bottom three.
  • Norwich slumped from the relative safety of 13th to 20th and relegation in the 1994-95 season - the furthest a team has fallen to finish the campaign in the relegation places in the history of the Premier League.
  • The most places dropped over the last 10 games was by Wimbledon, who slid from seventh to 16th in 1998-99 after picking up just two points over the period. That is the worst points tally over the final 10 games by a team that has survived the drop.
  • On three occasions the same three teams have occupied the bottom three positions with 10 games to go and at the end of the season. In 2000-01 Manchester City, Coventry and Bradford occupied 18th, 19th and 20th at both points, and in 2002-03 there was no change in the placing of West Ham, West Brom and Sunderland. The Newcastle, Middlesbrough and West Brom teams of 2008-09 were the most recent to achieve this unwanted feat.
  • The Sunderland side of 2002-03 is the only one in Premier League history to fail to gain a point over the last 10 games of the season. Unsurprisingly they finished bottom.
  • Only two teams have gained a maximum 30 points from their final 10 games of the season - Manchester United in 1999-2000 and Arsenal in 2001-02.


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