Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has defended forward Callum McManaman after his horror tackle on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara in Sunday’s 2-1 victory.
The 21-year-old, on his first Premier League start, escaped punishment from referee Mark Halsey for the knee-high challenge which resulted in the Magpies defender being carried off on a stretcher but Whelan believes it was an accident.
“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.”
The Latics chairman had his leg broken in the 1960 FA Cup final while playing for Blackburn and the injury cut short his career. “When I broke my leg in the cup final it was exactly the same type of tackle,” he added. “We both went for the ball. It brought back memories. It ruined my career. I am not going to criticise Norman Deeley. These things happen in football. He came over the ball but he didn’t do it with the aim of breaking my leg.”
The Football Association will study all the available TV footage of McManaman’s challenge before deciding if retrospective action can be brought. FA disciplinary officials are also waiting for the report of Halsey before making a decision. Usually, on-the-ball incidents cannot be dealt with retrospectively as it is seen as challenging the opinion of the referee.
If however, Halsey reports he did not see the studs-up lunge by McManaman because he was unsighted then there is the possibility the Wigan player could be charged. Haidara suffered potential knee ligament damage and the incident resulted in Newcastle assistant manager John Carver and Wigan coach Graham Barrow being sent to the stands after a melee developed at the end of the first half.