x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Whelan only has eyes on surviving

Dave Whelan, the Wigan chairman, says staying in the Premier League has to be the club's goal again next season.

Dave Whelan, the Wigan chairman, says staying in the Premier League has to be the club's goal again next season. Whelan, 73, does not think his club have the resources to be pushing for a European berth. "We are Wigan Athletic and when we set off at the start of the season all we are looking for is survival," he told PA Sport. "It is no use thinking we can get into Europe. We can have ambition and that's finishing in the top half of the league.

"That's what Roberto [Martinez, the manager] is intent on doing in this coming season. But if we survive, it's success." It has been a mixed debut season for Martinez, who arrived in the summer from Swansea. His side have enjoyed home victories against Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal but shipped nine goals at Tottenham. Whelan, who has seen the club spectacularly climb the pyramid from the backwaters of non-league football to the top flight appears to have lost none of his enthusiasm for the club.

He said: "When I came in and where we are now you cannot comprehend. Wigan were playing non-league football 25 years ago. "I was a member of the board when they were in the Lancashire Combination [a now wdefunct-league that was the 10th level of English football]. "To play Arsenal here and beat them [3-2 two weeks ago] was the finest moment of my life. When that winning goal [from Charles N'Zogbia] went in I have never felt anything so good. Everything we have done for that one moment in time was worth it."

Hull, who were all but relegated yesterday despite West Ham losing 3-2 at Fulham, visit the DW stadium today and their manager, Iain Dowie, has called for a positive response from his players. "We've got a very poor away record and it would be great to go there and try and get a result that gets rid of that." * Agencies Wigan v Hull, 4.30pm, Showsports 1