• FA Cup

Jackett heaps praise on 'professional' Martinez

ESPN staff
April 11, 2013
Kenny Jackett has managed Millwall since 2007 © Getty Images

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Millwall manager Kenny Jackett says that he could always tell Wigan boss Roberto Martinez would turn out to be a top coach as the pair prepare to meet in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

Jackett faces off against the Spaniard seven years after he coached him at Swansea City. The careers of the two men overlapped for two seasons between 2004 and 2006. In that time the Welsh club secured promotion to League One in 2005 and then winning the Football League Trophy the following year, and Jackett believes Martinez's input as crucial to that success.

"When I was manager of Swansea he was captain of the promotion team and then we went on to win the Football League Trophy," Jackett said. "He was a first-class captain and as good a pro as I've ever seen. It was some years ago now but he's taken that professionalism into his management. He's had a very, very good career so far, [he was] a very good captain and a tremendous professional.

"You could see he had the capabilities and was very popular as a player and later as a manager. He was very popular down at Swansea. He deserved that popularity. He was that good and, as I say, that professional."

Jackett feels it's no surprise that Martinez's team were able to so proficiently dismantle Everton 3-0 in the quarter-finals, and admitted he was wary of the Latics' traditional upturn in form towards the end of a season.

"I think Wigan are capable of beating anybody at their level on their day," he said. "I don't know if April's a great time to play Wigan! They get going very well at that time, a side that has a lot of talent. They proved that, when they're playing well, they can give any Premier League side a game. It didn't surprise me [the Everton result].

"They have a lot of talented players, they're very good on the ball. [Arouna] Kone has to be respected because their side has lifted since he's come back into the team. You have to respect a centre-forward like that. The link-up between [Jean] Beausejour and then [Shaun] Maloney down the left is a good one. Going forward they're very, very good.

"They have a lot of physical presence, they're a big side. When they do get things right, probably from their point of view and I've heard them talk, when they get their best side out, it is a formidable starting eleven.

"We have to pose Wigan a threat and attack them as well. That's very important for us. It's OK paying opposition respect, only to a degree. After that we have to make sure and play a good game ourselves. We can't concentrate too much on the opposition. We don't do that here.

"It's a great game to look forward to and a big opportunity for us. We've done well to get this far. We want to go to Wembley on Saturday and put on a performance. A performance gives us a chance of winning."

Ironically, despite the fact that Martinez has moved on to a higher level than Jackett, the Millwall manager will have much greater support on Saturday. Wigan have returned more than 10,000 unsold tickets for the Wembley clash, something which Jackett believes will give his London club an advantage.

"For our fans, the FA Cup has always been a big competition," Jackett said. "We sell well. If it's a home game, we sell. If we're going away from home we always sell a good allocation and, always going to Wembley, we're confident of selling our allocation. That's the case now, 31,000 allocation. We've gone through ours. The FA Cup certainly captures the allocation of Millwall fans. It's a big competition for us, big competition for our fans and always has been. They'll certainly make some noise.

"For the players, it's really important they don't play the occasion, they play the football match and concentrate on what happens inside the white lines. These things can pass you by very quickly. They have to concentrate, they have to focus."

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