Whelan leaps to defence of much maligned McManaman

WIGAN chairman Dave Whelan insists forward Callum McManaman’s x-rated tackle on Newcastle defender Massadio Haidara in their 2-1 victory on Sunday was not reckless.

Haidara suffered suspected knee ligament damage from McManaman’s high challenge, which sparked a half-time melee amongst the opposing players and eventually led to Newcastle coach John Carver being sent away from the dug out.

But Whelan, who suffered a broken leg while playing for Blackburn in the 1960 FA Cup final, leapt to the defence of his 21-year-old star.

“The ball was there and McManaman got the ball as clean as a whistle, then followed through and they collided,” he said.

“He hasn’t gone over the ball. That’s an accident. There is not one ounce of malice in him.

“You can’t just drop your foot or stop, they are both going at each other at 18 or 20mph and they collide. It happens.

“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.”

McManaman, making his first Premier League start, escaped disciplinary action from referee Mark Halsey, but the Football Association are expected to impose a retrospective ban.