Bullard hopes for third time lucky

Jimmy Bullard has vowed not to let Manchester United complete a hat-trick of four-goal triumphs over Wigan next week.

The Red Devils followed up their Premiership battering of the Latics by quashing their north-west neighbours’ Carling Cup dream in exactly the same comprehensive manner at the Millennium Stadium.

It was not the way Wigan wanted to remember their first major domestic final and has brought a few worried frowns to fans’ faces ahead of United’s televised visit to the JJB Stadium on Monday.

With just two wins from their last 14 games, and none in seven since the defeat of Middlesbrough on January 21, Wigan are hardly approaching the visit of Alex Ferguson’s men in confident mood.

United may have had their own troubles this term but they appear to have found a way of beating the Latics, and the prospect of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs repeating yesterday’s superb individual displays does not augur well for Wigan’s hopes.

But Bullard is determined Wigan will not succumb to another mauling – and the impressive midfielder is willing to resort to any means possible to stop United in their tracks.

“We have Manchester United again on Monday,” said the 27-year-old.

“We have lost 4-0 twice to them already and we are definitely going to stop it from becoming three on the trot, even if I have to start fouling to do it.

“When you look at the scorelines, it can only get better for us but I don’t think a couple of results should detract from what we have achieved during the season as a whole.

“We have already reached 40 points in the league, so we are virtually safe, which is what we were striving for at the start of the season.

“In addition, we have reached a major cup final for the first time in the club’s history. The result might not have gone the way we wanted, but the experience and everything that goes around it has been great for us.”

Given the giant strides Paul Jewell’s side have made this season, criticism is churlish but Wigan do appear to have offered United too much room to play so far this season, a fact emphasised by the amount of chasing round Bullard had to do yesterday.

“It is difficult to know the precise reasons why things went wrong because when you are actually out there, you are concentrating solely on the game,” he said.

“But it did feel like they had a bit of space and obviously great players can exploit it.

“Getting in front was the key to it for us. We competed well in the first half but once they got the goal, they strode away with it.”

Still, the experiences of the weekend – good and bad – have only increased Bullard’s determination to keep Wigan challenging for trophies.

Consolidating a place in the top half of the table may be Wigan’s aim for the remainder of the campaign, but the 27-year-old Londoner is hopeful yesterday’s game will not represent his last final.

“I want to get back as soon as possible,” he said.

“We are all dreadfully disappointed at the way the game went but it does make you hungry to reach more finals.”

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