Suarez would nev play for me af­ter


The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP -


AVE Whe­lan is sat in the chair­man’s suite at Wi­gan, FA Cup gleam­ing on one side, Char­ity Shield rest­ing on the other. But the 76-year-old isn’t here to talk about Satur­day’s show­piece with Manch­ester United.

“It’s a friendly, re­ally,” ad­mits the grand old man of Wi­gan Atheltic. “It would be lovely to win but a club like us, we might not get an­other chance to play at Wem­b­ley for 50 years. So my mes­sage to our fans and our play­ers is just to en­joy the day.”

No, what’s re­ally bug­ging Whe­lan this af­ter­noon is Luis Suarez.Will Liver­pool ac­cept Arse­nal’s £40m bid? Will the con­tro­ver­sial Uruguyan take his em­ploy­ers to court? Will the saga ever end?

Whe­lan, like us, has no idea. Of one thing, how­ever, he is en­tirely sure. If Suarez – last seen sink­ing his teeth into Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic – was a Wi­gan player, he wouldn’t need to ag­i­tate for a move.

“My view – and I know no­body will take a blind bit of no­tice at Liver­pool – is that they should sell him,” says Whe­lan.“I thought that the mo­ment he bit that lad at Chelsea.

“You can’t do some­thing like that. How can you bite some­body on a football pitch? I couldn’t be­lieve it. If he did that on the street, they’d lock him up.

“This is the sec­ond time and he’s go­ing to do it again. Do you want him to be wear­ing a Liver­pool shirt when he bites some­body again? No.

“What he did is enough. If he was at Wi­gan Ath­letic and he had bit­ten some­one like that, he wouldn’t pull a shirt on for me again, full stop.


“It’s a mat­ter of prin­ci­ple. We had Mar­lon King here, when he beat up a young lady and was sent to prison. I re­leased him im­me­di­ately. You can’t have that. We’re a fam­ily football club.”

Prin­ci­ples are a big thing for Whe­lan, a tal­ented full-back with Black­burn and Crewe be­fore mak­ing his mil­lions as the owner of high­street re­tailer JJB Sports.

It’s why, he says, no re­lease clauses are needed in Wi­gan’s con­tracts.Why no player ever goes whinge­ing in the Press about want­ing a ‘new chal­lenge’.

“I talk to my play­ers and I tell them the truth,” he ex­plains.“Which is this: If a big­ger club comes in and they of­fer the right deal for Wi­gan Ath­letic, and if you say to me ‘I want to go’, then I’ll let you go. They all know that and I have never re­fused one. Never.

“I prob­a­bly am a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to most peo­ple in football in that sense, and I think the rea­son is that I used to be a player my­self. I un­der­stand the way they think.

“But I also know that if you’re open and hon­est with your play­ers, you can get loy­alty back.

“When I was play­ing, we had play­ers like Brian Dou­glas and Ron Clay­ton. Ev­ery­one was af­ter Ron. He was cap­tain of Eng­land but he was play­ing for Black­burn on £20 a week.

“He knew other clubs were pay­ing more. Those were the days of the salary cap but there were back­han­ders and all sorts of other things go­ing on. But he never, ever asked to go. He en­joyed it where he was.

“You have to ask your­self ‘Is money ev­ery­thing in football?’ Some think it is. But other lads think ‘No, this is a good place to be’. And let me tell you, the spirit here is fan­tas­tic.”

Whe­lan’s prin­ci­ples may be put to the test be­fore Au­gust is out, with Shaun Maloney, Cal­lum McMana­man and, in par­tic­u­lar, James McCarthy on sev­eral Pre­mier League wish lists. McCarthy, 22, is val­ued at £20m and is ru­moured to be a top tar­get of both New­cas­tle and Ever­ton.

With at least 55 games to play, the Lat­ics can ill af­ford to lose play­ers lat in the win­dow, but Whe­lan has been i the game long enough to face facts.

“We may lose one or two yet, w don’t know,” he adds. “The Pre­mie League clubs tend to wait and wai then step in at the last minute. It isn very good for us, but what can yo do?

“I re­mem­ber when Jame McCarthy came down to sign for m with his mum and dad. I said to them ‘Lis­ten, we’ll look af­ter your son. An when he gets to a level where he ready to go, we’ll let him move on’.

“I’ll keep to my prom­ise on tha one, but the truth is we haven’t ha the right deal yet. He hasn’t asked fo a move and he’s re­ally happy here.”

Whe­lan has al­lowed new man­age Owen Coyle to bring in 11 play­ers in­clud­ing re­cent ac­qui­si­tion Jame McLean from Sun­der­land – as las sea­son’s FA Cup win­ners pre­pare t fight on four fronts.

There’s 46 games in the League FA Cup and League Cup, plus Europa League ad­ven­ture af­ter las sea­son’s dra­matic FA Cup win ove Man City.

“Europe is a dis­trac­tion, yeah, bu we’ve earned the hon­our,” he says “We’ve got 25 or 26 play­ers on th books now and we’ve de­lib­er­a­tel gone and done that so we can repre


STAR AT­TRAC­TION: James McCarthy is val­ued at £20m

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