Warren Joyce admitted his Wigan Athletic side were their own worst enemy after kicking off his reign in their worst possible fashion with a 3-0 home defeat to Reading.
Latics were two goals down inside five minutes at the DW, with poor defending twice gifting Garath McCleary very preventable goals.
You’re still learning about the side as players, and they’ve things to prove to me over the coming weeksWarren Joyce
Despite a much more competitive second-half, the visitors added number three just after the hour mark when Yann Kermorgant converted from the penalty spot after Max Power fouled John Swift.
And Joyce could not hide his disappointment afterwards that Latics had not given themselves a chance from the off.
When asked whether he could have envisaged a worse start, Joyce replied: “I think that’s an understatement really.
“The first goal particularly, it’s not like it’s good play, it’s just a straight long ball down the middle that we’ve not dealt with.
“It’s the worst possible start you could get, and the second goal was equally poor.
“We’re half feeling sorry for ourselves, and another poor situation ends up with an easy shot and we’re 2-0 down.
“Then you’ve got a mountain to climb against a good side.
“You’re under no illusions before the game starts that it’s going to be a tough game, but we’ve given them a two-goal lead.”
McCleary’s first goal saw him take advantage of hesitation between Dan Burn and Adam Bogdan, who was left in no man’s land when the Reading man flicked the ball over his head. “It’s basics even if you’re in under-14 football – a straight ball goes down the middle after 90 seconds and they don’t deal with it, two experienced players, you’re 1-0 down and you’ve got a mountain to climb,” mused Joyce, who then saw McCleary glide far too easily past several defenders before picking his spot in the bottom corner.
“The next goal was a poor goal to concede,” he recognised.
“If it was younger players, you’d be disappointed with the decisions that were made.”
Joyce was at least heartened by what came next, with Latics not letting their heads go down as they tried to find a way back into the game.
“I don’t think they gave up, to be fair, I don’t think they chucked it in – that’s the only heartening thing,” the Latics chief added.
“That would have been a bigger worry, if I’d seen them looking around or hiding.
“The players didn’t give up their task, and that gives you hope, that the players have worked so hard to get into this position, and they don’t want to lose their status without maximum effort.
“I thought at 2-0 in the second half we kept having a go, we kept trying to press, and we created opportunities.
“We just gave the ball away cheaply, and that led to the third goal.”
Joyce now has a fortnight with the players thanks to the international break, which he admits has come at the best possible time.
“You’re still learning about the side as players, and they’ve things to prove to me over the coming weeks,” he revealed.
“But I’m under no illusions about coming in here what the season was about.
“The international break will give me a chance to work with the players, make my own mind up, and see what they can and can’t do.”