Wigan's manager Roberto Martinez accused Manchester United of deliberately targeting his midfielder James McCarthy and said Wayne Rooney should have been sent off in the first 10 minutes of the game at the JJB Stadium yesterday. United won by a flattering 4-0 margin after Rooney clearly caught McCarthy with his forearm off the ball.
"I thought Wayne Rooney was very, very fortunate," said the Spaniard. "The referee saw it and gave a free-kick. It was clearly a red card. If you see the replay, it's clearlyan elbow. There was another bad challenge by Paul Scholes on McCarthy, which should have been a yellow card. So the big decisions never went in our favour and when that happens against a team like United, you get punished. Going down to 10 men doesn't guarantee you winning the game but I think it would have been a completely different proposition from then on."
United's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, attempted to play down the incident, saying: "It was next to nothing. Mark Clattenburg saw it and I think he said to Rooney that it was an accident." As the referee saw the incident, the FA will not be able to take any further action.
United will now go to Chelsea on Tuesday 15 points ahead of the champions and four clear at the top. Wigan will be bottom if West Ham beat Liverpool this afternoon.
Ferguson did give some credit to the home side, who were twice beaten 5-0 by United last season and have never taken so much as a point from them in a dozen League meetings. "In the first half they were all over us," he said. "Edwin van der Sar was terrific and stood up really well when we needed him. It's an acid test going to Chelsea and Liverpool next week and hopefully we'll have one or two [players] back."
Wolves moved out of the bottom three with a 4-0 win over Blackpool on the day it was announced that their former defender Dean Richards had died, aged only 36.