Roberto Martinez has leapt to the defence of Callum McManaman.
The 21-year-old has shown great promise for Wigan Athletic when called upon this season, and he was handed his first Premier League start for the club on Sunday afternoon. However, this occasion was marred by a reckless knee-high tackle on Massadio Haidara during the first half of the much-needed 2-1 win against Newcastle United at the DW Stadium.
Although the challenge went unpunished by referee Mark Halsey, it enraged the Magpies, who had assistant John Carver sent off at half-time when he tried to confront the youngster. Speaking after the match, Wigan manager Martinez leapt to the defence of McManaman, who looked visibly shaken when he was substituted just short of the hour mark.
“Remember it’s Callum’s full debut in the Premier League. I haven’t seen the replay, I believe that he touches the ball and then it’s a bad challenge, but it’s nothing malicious, he’s not that sort of boy,” the Spaniard told Sky Sports. “It’s the normal enthusiasm that you get in your debut.
“I can’t really comment too much because I haven’t seen the action but I can guarantee that Callum McManaman is a young man full of talent and in his debut probably showed the enthusiasm that you expect, but he’s not a malicious player. I think he wants to contact the player (Haidara).
“I don’t know if he’s done it already but he will do that because when you get an injury in that manner you obviously don’t want to leave any bad feelings. If Callum hasn’t apologised yet then he definitely will do that because we’re a football club where those values are very important.”
Haidara, who actually came on as a substitute when Mathieu Debuchy was injured early on, was stretchered off the pitch after a six-minute break in play. It remains unclear at this stage how long he will be out of action for, but it would be no surprise if he faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
As for the game itself, Davide Santon looked to have rescued a point for the visitors when he levelled Jose Beausejour’s opener on 72 minutes, but Arouna Kone struck in the last minute to give the Latics all three points. Even this goal was shrouded in controversy, as repeats clearly showed defender Maynor Figueroa helped the ball on with his hand leading up to the goal.
Wigan remain in the bottom three in the Premier League table three points behind Aston Villa and safety, but they do have a game in hand which, if they win, will see them leapfrog the Midlands side on goal difference. Newcastle, meanwhile, are still not entirely clear of danger, as they are only six points ahead of the Lancashire club and have also played a game more.