Whelan issues new challenge

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has challenged the Latics to recover from their Carling Cup misery by hitting the Premiership 50-point mark.

What should have been a day to remember for the ambitious Lancashire outfit turned into a nightmare at the Millennium Stadium as Paul Jewell’s men were outplayed by Manchester United and ended up suffering the biggest League Cup final defeat in history.

It was a deflating experience for the 27,000 fans who travelled to south Wales to support a club who were not even in the Football League 30 years ago.

But a crestfallen Whelan has been quick to look on the positive side. And, after virtually guaranteeing top-flight survival by hitting 40 points with a massive 11 games to spare, he now wants Wigan to ensure a place in mid-table by collecting another 10.

“We have stayed in the Premier League, which was our first target,” he said. “Now our objective is to reach 50 points.

“Yesterday was a great occasion for our club and to see all those supporters in the stadium was brilliant.

“At the start of the season, if someone had offered me a place in the Carling Cup final and said we would lose, I would have taken it.

“Of course, once you get there and it happens, it is disappointing to say the least.

“We are down, but we won’t be down for long and we will learn from this experience.”

After such a magical first two thirds of the campaign, Wigan are now presented with the problem of stopping it tailing off.

The Latics have won just two of their last 14 games in all competitions and they have now gone seven matches since beating Middlesbrough on January 21.

Whelan knows the prospects of an immediate up-turn in fortunes are not great given Manchester United are also their next opponents, no doubt arriving at the JJB Stadium next Monday looking to record a third successive 4-0 win over their north-west neighbours.

“We have to accept United were by far the better team yesterday but will be looking for some big revenge on that night,” said Whelan.

“The only problem is they have Wayne Rooney in their side.

“As a former defender myself, I can only say it must be an absolute nightmare to play against that lad.

“He is so sharp and talented it is amazing and while it is hard to take as far as Wigan is concerned, I am looking ahead to the World Cup and thinking about what he could do for England.”

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