- Premier League
Whelan: McManaman challenge a fair one
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has backed Callum McManaman following his heavy challenge on Massadio Haidara during Wigan's 2-1 victory against Newcastle on Sunday as the FA awaits the official's report before deciding whether to take disciplinary action.
Referee Mark Halsey admitted after the game that he did not spot the knee-high challenge, which forced the French player - himself a first-half substitute - to be stretchered off in considerable pain just 27 minutes into the match at the DW Stadium.
The FA will review all available video footage of the incident before electing if they will charge McManaman, something they will only be able to do once Halsey confirms he did not see the challenge in his match report.
And Whelan believes if the FA choose against charging his player then they will be sending out the correct message about how football should be played.
"It sends out the right message," he told Sky Sports. "The message is this: If you play football and the ball bounces you are entitled to go and win it, kick it and get the ball, so long as you get the ball and the challenge isn't too high. [McManaman's boot] was 14 inches from off the ground and that is what McManaman has done, he has gone for the ball and he has got the ball. The referee was ten yards away, he saw him get the ball and didn't even give a free-kick, there is a lot to be said for that."
Whelan added: "We must have 100% commitment from every player, from every team. I don't care who you play. Newcastle are a very competitive team. They were fighting for the ball like we were fighting for the ball because it was 1-1 and the game could have gone either way. It was a complete accident and I hope the lad from Newcastle recovers quickly and gets back to playing.
"It was a fair challenge. Don't get carried away, stop the camera after he's got the ball, and it looks like 'Oh it's a foul', but you've got to see it all. The ball breaks between the two of them and the other lad went for the ball and they collided. It's football, it's a tough game and it was an accident."
Despite believing the challenge to be a fair one, Whelan says Wigan have spoken with Newcastle to check how Haidara is doing.
"We're just checking to see if he has damaged any ligaments or anything," he said. "But hopefully the lad will be playing in a fortnight."
Whelan also said the club would accept any punishment from the FA that came their way.
"We will accept it because the FA look at things very carefully," he said. "They won't stop the footage like the press do, who stop the film and forget about the football. They forgot that young Callum has got the ball before they collided and that's a big thing. The referee was ten yards away and he has not even given a free-kick."
Halsey has been backed despite his failure to see the challenge.
Former Premier League referee Alan Wiley is adamant that Halsey is not to blame as he was unsighted by a player at the time of the incident.
"From the referee's point of view, he is in the position you would expect him to be," Wiley told Sky Sports. "It's just one of those situations where at the moment the tackle is made, a player runs along Mark Halsey's path which then blocks his view of the challenge, so Mark doesn't actually see the challenge.
"When the ball goes out towards the touchline, Mark will probably think McManaman has played the ball because he cannot see the challenge as it is. It is a one in a thousand situation where at the opportune moment, a player runs across his path and unfortunately, that [the foul] gets missed."
Meanwhile, Newcastle defender Davide Santon has revealed he will dedicate any future wins to Haidara.
Despite the enjoyment of scoring his first goal for the club against Wigan, Santon said that his focus remained on the well-being of his team-mate.
"My emotions are with Massadio," he told the Evening Chronicle. "I'm really disappointed for him and the result. I didn't see the tackle but I did see Massadio's knee. It was really bad and a lot of blood was coming out. Everybody said the tackle was really bad.
"We must win games for Massadio. I feel sorry for him. Every win is for him and [Mathieu] Debuchy because they didn't deserve these injuries. Injuries are the worst thing. They can change how you think and how the team plays when important players are missing. It was important for us to win this game. Now we have two important players injured. We don't know for how long but it is a big problem for us."
Santon added: "We have had a lot of injuries and we've had to change the team a few times. It's a problem. To lose a game like that makes me really angry. I scored my first goal. I'm happy about that. It would have been better to get a point. I wanted to dedicate it to Massadio. Papiss [Cisse] gave me a great ball and I went in against [Maynor] Figueroa, put the ball on to my right foot and shot. I'm not 100% happy because we lost."
Pardew admitted after the Wigan defeat that he was holding private counsel over the incident, in order to avoid any further punishment from the Football Association.
"I think the cameras saw all the incidents. It speaks for itself, really. I do not want to say anything more as I will only get myself in trouble," he told the Evening Chronicle. "It looks like Haidara has done his knee ligaments. He has terrible bruising. It is not a nice feeling having one of your players going to a hospital for a tackle which has gone unpunished. I will just say it has been a day which will live long in the memory for all the wrong reasons."