Football: Wigan chairman Dave Whelan launched an astonishing defence of Callum McManaman today, insisting that the forward got the ball in his horror tackle on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara.
The Latics earned a much-needed three points against Newcastle on Sunday, but the win was marred by an appalling knee-high tackle from McManaman which lead Haidara crumpled in a heap.
The Wigan player escaped punishment at the time, with replays suggesting that referee Mark Halsey’s line of sight was obscured.
Haidara was stretchered off with suspected knee ligament damage, but Whelan said he felt the challenge was a fair one.
“The ball was there and McManaman got the ball as clear as a whistle, then followed through and they collided,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“The referee was 15 yards from the tackle. I don’t think his view was blocked. He had a clear view. I had a clear view in the stands.
“He hasn’t gone over the ball. That’s an accident. There is not one ounce of malice in (him). He is an enthusiastic young boy. He has got great prospects. He was very upset by it all.”
In a separate interview with Sky Sports, Whelan reiterated his view that there was nothing wrong with the challenge and said it would be unfair were the Football Association to take retrospective action against McManaman.
“It sends out the right message. The message is this — you play football and the ball bounces you are entitled to go and win it, kick it or get the ball as long as you go for the ball and it is not too high and this was only 14 inches off the ground. Now that is playable,” said Whelan, who had his career ended by a challenge in the 1960 FA Cup final.
“That is what young McManaman has done. He has gone for the ball and has won the ball and the referee was only 10 yards away and didn’t even give a free-kick and there is a lot to be said for that.”
Nonetheless Whelan said he would not contest any additional punishment if the FA decided it was necessary.
“We will accept it as the FA look at things carefully, but they won’t stop the pictures like the press do,” he said.