Whelan - Ain’t no stopping us now

Dave Whelan
Dave Whelan

DAVE Whelan expects Wigan Athletic to shoot up the Premier League table after seeing their recent run of rotten luck come to an end in style.

Latics are without a game tomorrow afternoon due to the international programme, but will resume next weekend on 30 points from their 30 games.

Roberto Martinez believes his side need at least 10 more points to secure a seventh season of top-flight football.

Whelan would have preferred a game tomorrow to build on last weekend’s thrilling victory over Birmingham, when a last-gasp effort from Maynor Figueroa saw Latics record a long overdue three points.

But he says the confidence generated from the Birmingham game will stand the side in good stead for the rest of the campaign.

“We have never looked like a relegation side,” Whelan told the Evening Post.

“The ball just hasn’t been running for us – we’ve had some awful luck this season.

“But you have to accept all that and play your football, and our lads have done that and they deserve all the praise in the world.

“For Wigan Athletic, last week was a massive three points on the way to staying in the Premier League.

“We’re a young side – but Roberto likes to play the youngsters, and they all play good football.

“I’ve said all along that if we continue to play like we have been for the rest of the season, we’ll get our rewards and stay in the Premier League.

“I had a word with the boys at the end, and they were in good spirits. In fairness, they were in good spirits before the match, but even more so after that finish.”

While a few of the teams in the league will have welcomed the blank weekend to rest weary legs, Whelan says Latics would rather have kept on playing.

“We’ve had quite a lot of stoppages in the fixture list this season, and I certainly don’t think that there should have been a break for the last eight of the FA Cup which there was the other week,” Whelan added.

“But the FA and the Premier League make the rules and we just have to get on with it.”

Next up for Latics is the visit of Tottenham next Saturday, and Whelan is hoping there will be a similar ending to last weekend’s exciting climax.

“Everyone in the stadium was nervous, but the lads stuck at it and we came out on top,” Whelan enthused.

“The whole game was fantastic – end to end, thrilling and exciting, nerve-jangling and nail-biting.

“We’d been pressing so much, and we deservedly got through in the end.”

Being a former full-back, Whelan in particular would have enjoyed Figueroa’s dramatic winner.

“It’s fantastic when they come off like that, when they crash into the net,” he smiled.

“The one he scored at Stoke last season was awesome and this one was just as important.

“We were all hoping for about five minutes of injury time at the end because I could feel a goal was coming.

“I must admit the last three minutes after we scored felt like 33, but we did it – and the important thing now is to build on it.”