Roberto Martínez will seek talks with his chairman, Dave Whelan, this week to propose replacing the playing surface at the DW Stadium for the second time in 12 months. Its deterioration against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday undoubtedly contributed to the spectacle of Wigan's first Premier League win of 2011 but Martínez insists its treacle trenches are not natural bedfellows of his athletic Athletic.
Seven hours of rain transformed it into a quagmire but the feeling that the turf had churned too easily was inescapable. All too often during the second half the ball got stuck in the mud or held up in wet patches, and with their rugby league cohabitants, Wigan Warriors, kicking off their own season later this month, doubling the pounding of the pitch until the end of the season, Martínez is taking a proactive stance.
"Before kick-off the rain was awful – and I was happy with the way the drainage was working – but the last half-hour it was unplayable," Martínez said. " We will look at what we can do and if it does not recover we will have to look at another solution. We did re-lay the pitch last season and I will have to have a word with the chairman. It was not an issue before the game but it is now."
With Manchester United the next visitors, an uneven surface could be construed as a potential leveller – but recent history suggests otherwise. Last season Wigan sent Liverpool and Arsenal packing after the March makeover. "To get results we need to play at our best," Martínez said. "Our best is getting the ball down and playing face to face. We need a good pitch – it does not matter who we are playing against."
Wigan, marshalled by their precocious Republic of Ireland midfielder, James McCarthy, did their upmost to prove that theory in a pulsating Lancashire derby, which delivered only their second victory in 13 league attempts.
Given their next sextet of fixtures – five of the top seven await – the need for three points was tangible. Those points appeared to have been sealed when the 20-year-old McCarthy made it 3-1 with the goal of the game, 11 minutes after the interval. Despite a posse of minders forming after Charles N'Zogbia's drive was fisted out by Paul Robinson, the Frenchman seized on the rebound to thread to McCarthy, who impudently flicked the ball up with his right boot and clipped it inside the post with his left.
Earlier, McCarthy began Wigan's halcyon half-hour with an equaliser from an acute angle. The concession of two late Blackburn goals caused brief panic but McCarthy's return from a three-month ankle injury has galvanised Wigan. Two summers ago he plumped for the Lancashire club and first-team football, having gone cold on a move to Liverpool, next weekend's opponents.
"It's a hard run coming up but we'll go there and give it our all. You never know. We went to Spurs and took three points. We did really well here against Chelsea as well and drew with Liverpool and Arsenal so you never know," he said.
Such is the competitive nature of the top flight this season that Wigan are now just two points shy of the much-lauded Blackpool. And the relegation fight could yet draw in a third club from the north-west; Blackburn have taken 10 points from nine matches since Sam Allardyce was sacked. "We're very disappointed with the result. We didn't show the professional attitude we needed after going a goal up," said striker Jason Roberts, its scorer. "To let the game run away from us the way we did was shocking."