Everton 0 Wigan 3
Finishing bottom of the Premier League next season will earn clubs more than what this term’s champions will get from television revenue alone, so it was no wonder why Roberto Martinez refused to let himself get carried away with leading Wigan to their first ever FA Cup semi-final.
Martinez was delighted, of course, along with the travelling Wigan fans as the Latics overcame Everton at Goodison Park to earn a Wembley place next month.
Maynor Figueroa, Callum McManaman and Jordi Gomez scored in a mad 203 first-half seconds to ensure their cup dream continued while Everton’s died a painful death as it also put the spotlight on their manager David Moyes.
Martinez is an optimist, even when Wigan have looked all-but relegated in previous seasons, he never seems perturbed but talk of risking Premier League security for a trophy unsettles him.
It is a gamble he is unwilling to take and Saturday’s win over Everton was by far the strongest team he has put out in the FA Cup this season but it still had changes.
They were able to catch Everton on their worst day for some time to earn their first-ever semi-final appearance but it is the fact they now lie in the Premier League relegation zone that will be more of a concern for Martinez — especially with how important it is to stay up this term.
The Premier League champions this season will earn around €70m from television companies plus the prize fund but next year the team which finishes bottom will earn more because of the new broadcast rights deal.
Each club will receive at least €16m extra to what they earn this season thanks to the megabucks deal signed by the Premier League with Sky, BT and others.
To a club like Wigan, that is massive, especially since they have embarked on an expensive training ground venture which will tie up a lot of their financial resources for the next few years.
Unfortunately, the money on offer for an FA Cup run pales insignificant to the league.
“I’ll never put the future of the club — or the league — in question just to get to Wembley,” stated Martinez.
“With the financial changes that happen next season, the difference between clubs in the Premier League and the Championship are huge.
“Staying in the Premier League this year could make a change for 25 years for this football club. That’s how important it is. Success in the cup is welcome as long as that does not come at a cost to what we do in the league.”
Figueroa nodded in after 30 minutes from Gomez’s corner, that James McCarthy had earned with a rasping shot that Jan Mucha pushed wide, before boyhood Evertonian Callum McManaman doubled their lead within a minute when he pounced on a misplaced pass by Phil Neville.
The visiting fans then went into delirium when Gomez found the bottom corner in the 33rd minute which ended the game as a competition despite Everton pressing for a way back in after the break as they exited the cup with a whimper after much hope they would win their first trophy since 1995.
For Moyes, it was the chance to bring a trophy to the club he has managed for almost 11 years. There is no doubt the Scot, who may leave the club this summer as he refuses to discuss a new deal until then, has brought Everton on as they now no longer flirt with relegation and bottom-half finishes, instead chasing Europe.
However, they lack financial resources and their lacklustre display against Wigan was like an X-ray for the frailties of the side Moyes has struggled to strengthen in the last two transfer windows.
“I’ve always known what I need to do to move it forward here, and I’ve always known what is required, but a lot of those things aren’t apparent to people viewing from the outside,” he said. “As the season goes on, those frailties we identified do become more apparent and more people begin to notice them. Obviously they are more noticeable after performances like these.
“I have always said we were delighted we were fighting on two fronts, for a place in Europe and the cup semi-final, even if we knew we had frailties. Now we have one thing left, so I would expect us to give that a good go.”
EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Mucha (5); Coleman (5), Distin (5), Heitinga (4), Baines (5); Pienaar (5), Osman (5), Neville (4; 46), Mirallas (6; 79); Fellaini (4; 67); Jelavic (5). Subs: Anichebe (6; 46) Gibson (6; 67) Barkley (6; 79).
WIGAN (3-4-2-1): Robles (7); Figueroa (7), Alcaraz (7; 90), Scharner (7); Beausejour (6), Gomez (7), McCarthy (8), Boyce (7); Maloney (8), McManaman (7; 40); Kone (7). Subs: Miyaichi (5; 40) Golobart (6; 90).
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