King finds cup run hard to believe
Macclesfield manager Steve King is still having to pinch himself to believe his history makers are on the brink of a place in the FA Cup fifth round.
King arrived at Moss Rose in the summer, amid general disenchantment, at a club that had just been relegated from the Football League knowing he was not the man the locals wanted to guide them back.
Slowly he has turned opinion round, partly through a refreshing brand of football, but also because of a cup run the like of which has never been seen in these parts before.
In 139 years, Macclesfield had never been beyond the third round. King took just six months to break the record.
``It is surreal,'' he said.
``I have followed the FA Cup all my life.
``To be part of the last 32, with the opportunity to create an upset is unreal. It has taken the club 139 years to get to this point. We did it in six months.
``I had the FA Cup in my house this week, the trophy I have seen all the stars lifting. You have to pinch yourself really.''
Macclesfield tackle Wigan in a game that repeats a fixture in the very first Northern Premier League almost half a century ago. It is the one King would have chosen himself.
``I wanted to play Wigan because for a Premier League star to turn up here and have 6,000 spectators virtually standing on their backs is going to be a culture shock,'' he said.
``Not only that, Roberto Martinez is my style of manager.
``He plays the kind of football I like. He won't compromise no matter what, which is just the same as me. It is nice to be up against someone like that.''
Macclesfield have suffered one unwanted setback in the build-up as goalkeeper Lance Cronin has been ruled out with a broken thumb, forcing King into an emergency loan to get Joe Anyon from Shrewsbury.
For the visitors, Roger Espinoza and Angelo Henriquez are likely to start after making their Wigan debuts in the third-round win over Bournemouth, while Callum McManaman and Fraser Fyvie could also make rare appearances for the Latics.
Arouna Kone is unavailable as he is on African Nations Cup duty with Ivory Coast while Antolin Alcaraz (groin), Ivan Ramis (knee), Adrian Lopez (hamstring), midfielders Ben Watson (broken leg) and Albert Crusat (knee) and striker Ryo Miyaichi (ankle) are still unavailable.
Martinez, a former Latics player who played for the club during their rise through the lower league ranks, expects a full-blooded clash.
Despite the 82 places separating them in their league positions, the Wigan boss remains wary of the Silkmen after they dumped npower Championship leaders Cardiff out of the FA Cup in the last round with two late goals.
``There is going to be a lot of passion in the Moss Rose ground on Saturday and it is going to be a typical FA Cup tie,'' Martinez said.
``Divisional status is not an issue in the FA Cup or any cup for that matter and as we've seen against Cardiff City in the last round, Macclesfield use their home ground to their advantage and they were very effective against the leaders of the Championship, which is a phenomenal achievement.
``As we saw ourselves against Bournemouth in the last round, players can raise their game in one off matches like these and they can hit extraordinary physical levels which bring about an extra difficulty when you are trying to prepare.
``We're going to have over 2,000 of our fans filling a third of the ground which makes it even more significant for us and in many ways it is a blast from the past for some of our supporters that have been following the club since our days in the lower divisions.
``We are really looking forward to the game and we want to progress to the fifth round.''