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Monday, November 22, 2010
Caldwell: Supporters influenced ref

Wigan defender Steven Caldwell felt referee Martin Atkinson's crucial decisions were influenced by the huge Old Trafford crowd in Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Manchester United.

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Captain Antolin Alcaraz was dismissed for a second bookable offence after half-time, while striker Hugo Rodallega also saw red two minutes later and Charles N'Zogbia was denied what the Latics felt was a clear penalty with the score still goalless.

"I wasn't even worried he [Alcaraz] might go off for the [second] challenge, to be honest,'' Caldwell told the Wigan Evening Post. "There were tackles flying in from their side - and I know I'm biased - that weren't getting punished, and could possibly have been bookings.

"But I thought it was an honest challenge from Antolin to get the ball, and although it was a certain foul on Fletch, which we accept, I just felt the referee could have shown a bit of leniency. Maybe the pressure from the crowd and whatever meant he sent him off.

"I also thought it was a stonewall penalty and I'm certain that if it had been a Manchester United player it would have been a penalty. I said that to the referee at half-time, and he said he felt that Charlie went down far too easily.

"My argument was why would he go down when he was in such a strong position. It was such a big decision that had a bearing on the game, because they got their first goal within a couple of minutes and all of a sudden we're 1-0 down at half-time.''

Caldwell's claim is far from the first time an opposition player or manager has accused officials of giving decisions in favour of United.

In January 2005, Roy Carroll clearly fumbled a long-distance effort from Tottenham's Pedro Mendes into the net, but the goal was not given, while in 2009, then West Brom boss Tony Mowbray accused referee Rob Styles of "being in awe" of United's players after he controversially sent off Baggies defender Paul Robinson.

And this season, Mark Clattenburg courted controversy after allowing Nani's goal against Spurs to stand amid confusion about whether a free-kick had been awarded against the Portuguese winger. That incident came a week after Stoke manager Tony Pulis accused officials of double standards following Andre Marriner's failure to to show Gary Neville a second yellow card for a poor challenge on Matthew Etherington.

Wigan defender Steve Gohouri insists the Latics have to take points off bottom side West Ham this weekend to prevent relegation worries escalating.

The defeat at United meant Roberto Martinez's side dropped back down to 18th. They are currently five points ahead of the Hammers, who have won just once in the league this season, but Gohouri believes they cannot afford a defeat in London - where they will be without suspended captain Antolin Alcaraz and striker Hugo Rodallega.

"Antolin and Hugo are going to be a big loss for us against West Ham, and it's a massive game against a team we're in direct competition with,'' Gohouri said.

"These are the games we have to be taking points from, it doesn't matter how we do it we just need to make sure we come back from Upton Park with points on the board.''

Gohouri is confident the players have what it takes to pull away from the bottom three and avoid another relegation battle.

"The squad is stronger than last season in numbers and mentally,'' he told Latics Player. "We're together as a group and when one player has to sit out a game there are players ready to come in and show their quality.''

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