Wigan Athletic produced their worst performance of the season for the arrival of new manager Warren Joyce.
Latics were completely outplayed by Jaap Stam’s rampant Reading and fell behind within the first minute when Garath McCleary was allowed to run free and lift the ball over the hesitant Adam Bogdan.
After five minutes it was 2-0 as the Latics defence backed off the advancing McCleary and the winger unleashed a low drive from 20 yards to beat Bogdan.
Latics were in disarray and they could easily have gone four down before the interval when Yann Kermogant twice went close.
In the second half Kermogant did get on the score sheet when he converted a penalty for the Royals to seal the three points.
It’s too early to judge Warren Joyce, but this was a disastrous performance and the Latics’ hierarchy must take full responsibility for this result.
Wigan were second best throughout. The decision to sack manager Gary Caldwell had clearly unsettled the players and there appeared to be a lack of belief in the new regime.
Joyce surprisingly left out top scorer Will Grigg and winger Yanic Wildschut from the starting line up with Adam Le Fondre and Max Power coming in.
Latics’ defence went to sleep in the opening minute when both Dan Burn and Adam Bogdan allowed Garath McCleary to nip between them and lift the ball over Bogdan and into the net.
The home team were clearly unsettled by conceding such a sloppy goal and matters got much worse on five minutes when Liam Moore ran through the midfield unchallenged before setting up McCleary on the edge of the area, and the winger’s low effort evaded Bogdan.
Reading were completely on top and they should have extended their lead when Yann Kermogant twice went close.
His first effort inside the box was deflected just wide of Bogdan’s post.
From the resulting corner Kermogant had another opportunity, this time the ball looped just over the crossbar.
Latics failed to create any worthwhile opportunities in the opening half and any confidence gained from last week’s victory at Cardiff had completely disappeared.
Given the nature of the first half performance it was disappointing that the new manager only made one change at half time with Yanic Wildschut replacing Jordi Gomez.
Wildschut was soon in the action creating Latics first real opportunity when he broke down the left and crossed into the area, the ball fell to Jacobs who tried a back-heel, but Reading were able to clear.
Latics continued to try to get a foothold in the game and Le Fondre had a deflected effort from distance well saved by Al-Habsi.
But Reading always looked dangerous on the break and they sealed the three points on 63 minutes when Kermogant converted a penalty after Max Power had fouled John Swift in the area.
Will Grigg replaced Le Fondre on 71 minutes and Latics seemed invigorated for a spell, but it was all in vain as the Royals ran out comfortable winners.
Joyce will not have had the time to implement his ideas but the players demonstrated no new manager bounce for the former Manchester United reserve coach.
It was always going to be a big challenge for the new manager. The stark reality is that Gary Caldwell was sacked when there was no real crisis at the club. Normally a manager is removed from his position at the half-way point in the season when the club is rooted in the relegation zone and showing no signs of improvement.
But this was not the case at Wigan as only 14 games had been played and they had only lost once in their previous five games and were within striking distance of mid table.
Something behind the scenes must have happened for a promising young manager who had done so magnificently last season in getting the team promoted to be harshly dismissed at the first signs of a setback.
The Championship is full of impatient owners looking for instant success and chopping and changing managers on a regular basis does not guarantee success.