Staying up is Wigan's aim every year, says Whelan

Click to follow
The Independent Football

His Wigan Athletic side may have secured Premier League safety with a full fortnight of the current campaign remaining, but Latics chairman Dave Whelan believes that the club's priority next season will again be to avoid relegation.

The 73-year-old has admitted that the club do not have the resources to push for anything higher. "We are Wigan Athletic," he said ahead of this afternoon's visit of Hull City. "When we set off at the start of the season all we are looking for is survival.

"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, Wigan manager] is intent on doing in this coming season. But if we survive, it's success."

The stunning 3-2 comeback victory over Arsenal last month went a long way to securing the club's top-flight status for another season and followed previous home victories this season over Liverpool and Chelsea, and Whelan has backed Martinez to continue his fine work at the DW Stadium.

"To beat Arsenal was the finest moment of my life," Whelan continued. "When that winning goal went in I have never felt anything so good. Everything we have done for that one moment in time was worth it."

"I do not doubt Roberto in any way. He is one of the best young managers in Europe. He has learned a hell of a lot and is a quick learner. We have been brilliant and awful. It has been a very unusual season. But we got the right result – we stayed up."

Marcelo Moreno is a major doubt for today's match after sustaining a calf injury during the 3-2 defeat at West Ham nine days ago, while midfielder Hendry Thomas (thigh) also misses out. Hull may welcome back Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink after the striker missed last weekend's defeat to Sunderland with concussion. He could replace fellow forward Jozy Altidore, whose loan spell at the club is over after he picked up a three-match suspension for a headbutt on Black Cats defender Alan Hutton.

With relegation all but a mathematical certainty – even consecutive 10-0 wins today and against Liverpool on Sunday will probably not be enough – Tigers manager Iain Dowie has called on his players to end the season on a positive note.

"It's very much about playing for professional pride now," he said. "About making sure the integrity of what the club's about is shown. We've got a very poor away record and it would be great to get a result that gets rid of that."