Elmer Bernstein's The Great Escape theme, adopted by England fans in the 90s and then more pertinently by West Bromwich Albion in 2005, was supposed to be the theme of Wigan's season again. Forget "I'm a Believer", the club has evaded the drop on the final day on two out of seven Barclays Premier League seasons and optimism was rife that the escapologists would pull it off again.

Bernstein's classic score was blared out at Wembley after Wigan Athletic registered the greatest day in the club's history on Saturday, only lifting silverware was merely their John Leyton and Charles Bronson respite. Last week's defeat to Swansea City was effectively the moment Gordon Jackson fatefully uttered the words, "Thank you" and then, at the Emirates Stadium, Wigan crashed as spectacularly as Steve McQueen and the escape was over.

Roberto Martínez said he was "shocked" by their relegation but few were. In the last two seasons seven wins from the final nine fixtures have kept Wigan in the top flight, with Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United among the scalps in last year's impressive run. That sequence of results prompted Liverpool owner John W Henry to discuss with Martínez about the possibility of him succeeding Kenny Dalglish at Anfield. The pair were pictured in America but, for one reason or another, Martínez remained at the DW Stadium.

roberto martinez

Martínez's Wigan finally succumbed to relegation


Liverpool have rarely been synonymous with prudence in the past two-and-a-half-years but overlooking Martínez was the correct call. He was flavour of the month after Wigan's vibrant football wowed neutrals and opponents alike, yet one swallow does not a summer make, and the flamboyant finale masked Martínez's naivety.

Overlooking the magnificent achievement of winning the FA Cup, in all four of Martínez's campaigns Wigan have been in a relegation dogfight. They actually finished with a paltry 36 points in his debut campaign, winning two of their final nine games, before edging up to 42 in 2010-11 and creeping up to 43 last season.

His fourth term in charge was seen as a chance for progression, and silverware should not mask a truly drastic downfall in Wigan's fortunes, with their annual spring onslaught finally failing them.

Arsenal, an inferior team than Manchester City, were quick to capitalise on a porous defence which was afforded the time to shore up by the ponderous Citizens. Wigan produced their finest defensive display not only at Wembley, but in the quarter and semi-finals of the FA Cup, when they kept clean sheets against Everton and Millwall. It can be as much a struggle juggling priorities as it is staying up.

Following the Wembley win, Martínez opened his press conference by apologising. "Sorry for the wait. We're not used to celebrating," he cheerfully said. Whereas most managers fresh from lifting silverware for the first time would sup from a glass of champagne, Martínez opted for a hot beverage.

The dressing room celebrations were a teetotal affair, he assured us, and he refused to renege on his pledge that winning the FA Cup would mean nothing if Wigan were relegated.

roberto martinez

Wigan are the first team to win the FA Cup and be relegated


"Nobody will take away the trophy, winning the FA Cup is something special and is inspirational to other football clubs, but we are in Europe next season and you need to play at the top level to move onto the next level," he added. He was notably unsure when asked whether his players would be able to physically match Arsenal after the elation of the cup win.

In the end, they resembled Ian Holloway's maverick Blackpool team of 2010-11. Impressive for an hour, the Latics quickly tired and the final 30 minutes of their 4-1 loss resembled an exhibition match. It was unfair on Wigan that television [due to the Europa League final] dictated they play a night earlier, while Martínez had already reminded the press on Saturday just how many players were unavailable through injury. His favoured left-sided partnership of Jean Beausejour and Maynor Figueroa would almost certainly have dealt better with Santi Cazorla when he assisted Theo Walcott's goal to make it 2-1.

Martínez has defeated the top seven sides during his Wigan tenure but his team's penchant for trouble reflects unfavourably on a bright manager.

Wigan, as a club, with their four-figure attendances, are one of the most unattractive in the Premier League, yet Martínez moulded a forward-thinking and ebullient team with a continental flavour which treated supporters for four years, despite the heart palpitations.

Whether it was survival or relegation, the 39-year-old was destined to depart this summer and he is deserving of a job as big as that at Everton, eviscerated 3-0 by Wigan in the last eight of the FA Cup.

They were a little too gung-ho but although Wigan are back to the cooler of the Championship, they can at least be as optimistic as McQueen, bouncing his baseball.

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  • Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Premier League

    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 14: (L-R) Roberto Martinez the Wigan Athletic manager shakes hands with Arsene Wenger the Arsenal manager at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at Emirates Stadium on May 14, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-ARSENAL-WIGAN

    Wigan Athletic's Spanish Manager Roberto Martinez acknowledges the supporters at the end of the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at The Emirates Stadium in London on May 14, 2013. Martinez was in a state of shock after Wigan became the first team to win the FA Cup yet be relegated from English football's top-flight in the same season following a 4-1 Premier League loss away to Arsenal. AFP PHOTO/IAN KINGTON RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR “LIVE” SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS. (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-ARSENAL-WIGAN

    Wigan Athletic's Spanish Manager Roberto Martinez acknowledges the supporters at the end of the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at The Emirates Stadium in London on May 14, 2013. Martinez was in a state of shock after Wigan became the first team to win the FA Cup yet be relegated from English football's top-flight in the same season following a 4-1 Premier League loss away to Arsenal. AFP PHOTO/IAN KINGTON RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR “LIVE” SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS. (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-ARSENAL-WIGAN

    Wigan Athletic's Spanish Manager Roberto Martinez leaves the pitch following the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at The Emirates Stadium in London on May 14, 2013. Arsenal won the match 4-1. AFP PHOTO/IAN KINGTON RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR “LIVE” SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS. (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-ARSENAL-WIGAN

    Wigan Athletic's Spanish Manager Roberto Martinez reacts during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at The Emirates Stadium in London on May 14, 2013. Arsenal won the match 4-1. AFP PHOTO/IAN KINGTON RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR “LIVE” SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS. (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-ARSENAL-WIGAN

    Wigan Athletic's Roger Espinoza leaves the pitch in dejection at the end of the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at The Emirates Stadium in London on May 14, 2013. Arsenal won the match 4-1. AFP PHOTO/IAN KINGTON RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR “LIVE” SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS. (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-ARSENAL-WIGAN

    Wigan Athletic's goalkeeper Joel Robles reacts during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at The Emirates Stadium in London on May 14, 2013. Arsenal won the match 4-1. AFP PHOTO/IAN KINGTON RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR “LIVE” SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS. (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Premier League

    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 14: Wigan Athletic players walk off dejected after being relegated following their defeat in the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at Emirates Stadium on May 14, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

  • Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Premier League

    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 14: Wigan Athletic players walk off dejected after being relegated following their defeat in the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at Emirates Stadium on May 14, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

  • Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Premier League

    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 14: Roger Espinoza (L) and Emmerson Boyce (R) of Wigan Athletic react at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at Emirates Stadium on May 14, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

  • Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Premier League

    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 14: Joel Robles (C) the Wigan Athletic goalkeeper and Roberto Martinez (R) the Wigan Athletic manager react at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at Emirates Stadium on May 14, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

  • Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Premier League

    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 14: Roberto Martinez the Wigan Athletic manager reacts at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at Emirates Stadium on May 14, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

  • Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Premier League

    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 14: Roberto Martinez the Wigan Athletic manager reacts at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at Emirates Stadium on May 14, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

  • FBL-ENG-PR-ARSENAL-WIGAN

    Arsenal's Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey (C) celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at The Emirates Stadium in London on May 14, 2013. Arsenal won the match 4-1. AFP PHOTO/IAN KINGTON RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live†services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Emirates Stadium

    Wigan Athletic's Manager Roberto Martinez stands dejected as his side are relegated after the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 14, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire.

  • Soccer - Joel Robles Composite

    Composite photo of Wigan Athletic's Joel Robles standing dejected as his side are relegated from the Premier League (top) and celebrating their victory over Manchester City in the FA Cup Final three day earlier. PRESS ASSOCATION Photo. Picture issued: Tuesday May 14, 2013. Photo credit should read: PA Wire.

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Emirates Stadium

    Wigan Athletic's Franco Di Santo stands dejected as his side are relegated after the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 14, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire.

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Emirates Stadium

    Wigan Athletic's James McCarthy walks off dejected as his side are relegated after the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 14, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire.

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Emirates Stadium

    Wigan Athletic's Joel Robles stands dejected as his side are relegated after the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 14, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire.

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Emirates Stadium

    Wigan Athletic's Manager Roberto Martinez consoles Emmerson Boyce as his side are relegated after the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 14, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire.

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Emirates Stadium

    Wigan Athletic's Manager Roberto Martinez applauds the traveling fans as his side are relegated after the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 14, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire.

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Emirates Stadium

    Wigan Athletic's Paul Scharner (right) and team mates look dejected after conceding their fourth goal against Arsenal.

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Emirates Stadium

    Wigan Athletic's Ben Watson (left) and Paul Scharner (right) show their dejection after the final whistle against Arsenal.

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Emirates Stadium

    Wigan Athletic's Antolin Alcaraz walks off the field dejected after the game against Arsenal.

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Emirates Stadium

    Wigan Athletic's Joel Robles (right) shows his dejection after the final whistle against Arsenal.

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Emirates Stadium

    Wigan Athletic's Gary Caldwell looks dejected after the final whistle against Arsenal.

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Emirates Stadium

    Wigan Athletic's Ben Watson shows his dejection after the final whistle against Arsenal.

  • Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Wigan Athletic - Emirates Stadium

    Wigan Athletic's goalkeepers Joel Robles (left) and Ali Al-Habsi stand dejected after they are relegated after the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 14, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire.