Latics were their own worst enemy against QPR as they pressed the self-destruct button in the second half after leading 1-0 at half time and ended up losing 3-1.
Latics edged the first half and took the lead after only two minutes when Cedric Kipre finished at close range following a Danny Fox corner.
The second half was a completely different affair as Latics capitulated with a series of schoolboy errors and shambolic defending.
Rangers drew level two minutes into the second half when Ryan Manning was allowed far too much space and David Marshall failed to cut out his cross and Nakhi Wells was on hand to fire home.
Worse was to come for Marshall as the hapless keeper allowed Ebere Eze’s curled free-kick to slip through his hands and was poorly positioned for Rangers third as substitute Jordan Hugill made it 3-1.
It could have been many more however, as Latics offered limited resistance against a rampant Rangers, Hugill in particular should have had a hat-trick.
Paul Cook’s long ball tactics continue to be baffling and the players lack of commitment is very troubling.
They have now dropped into the bottom three and although it’s still early in the season, if Latics lose at home to Barnsley next Saturday, Cook’s job could be on the line.
Cook made two changes from Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough, with Joe Garner and Michael Jacobs coming into the team.
Latics were ahead after only two minutes as QPR failed to clear a Fox corner and Kipre was on hand to score at close range.
QPR responded but were unable to test Marshall with any efforts on goal and Latics might have increased their lead when Jacobs smacked his cross shot against the post.
As the half wore on Latics stayed resolute at the back with Rangers misfiring in front of goal.
The second half was a different affair with QPR dominating and drawing level after just two minutes.
Ryan Manning’s cross evaded David Marshall’s grasp and as Latics failed to clear Wells was left free to drill the ball into the net for 1-1.
Latics were visibly shaken by the setback and proceeded to implode with some catastrophic defending.
On 61 minutes QPR were ahead. Lee Evans headed the ball back into the danger zone and Kipre had to make a last ditch challenge to deny Ezre and was penalised for a high boot.
From the resulting free kick on the left edge of the area Ezra curled the ball through Marshall’s outstretched hands into the bottom right corner. The Latics keeper was visibly frustrated by his error.
QPR were in total control now as Latics offered limited resistance.
Cook’s only tactic was to launch the ball long to the isolated striker Garner who invariably fouled his marker.
Rangers were racking up the chances now as first Wells’ low drive went narrowly wide and then substitute Hugill missed a sitter firing high over the crossbar from a yard out.
But on 81 minutes Hugill made it 3-1. A high ball over the top played in Hugill and as Marshall hesitated the on-loan West Ham striker was able to curl the ball past the out of position Latics keeper.
The visitors demoralised backline was under constant pressure.
The Rangers forwards passed the ball to good effect and should have added more to the score line.
Hugill in particular was profligate blazing well wide from a great position and the score remained at 3-1.
For some reason Cook has changed his tactics this season and it’s proving to be disastrous. The manager has adopted a route one approach and it’s likely to result in his downfall.
Latics used to be known as a good footballing team but playing hoof ball to a lone striker will inevitably result in failure.
Whenever keeper Marshall has the ball he always kicks it long and on most occasions this results in the opponents winning the ball.
Latics other major play is for Fox to launch it long from his own half in an attempt to find one of his colleagues but it rarely does.
The players generally look unhappy with this style of play but that is what they have been told to do.
It’s a mystery why Cook has this season changed to the long ball game. Has Cook been instructed by the boardroom to play more direct? Who knows?
But this type of football isn’t attractive, it isn’t effective, it isn’t popular and if it continues it will get Cook sacked.