Before going to the game on Saturday, I'd previously been to Wigan 4 times and had never seen us win. I had two overriding memories of games at the DW Stadium; Leroy Lita's effort skimming agonisingly past the post in April 2008 which inevitably would have seen us stay in the Premier League 2 weeks later with a victory at Derby and a Jordi Gomez hattrick after the then Wigan keeper Ali Al-Habsi had levelled things for us when he threw the ball into his own net in November 2012. Thankfully those memories have been replaced with good ones at the 5th time of asking.
It was bitterly cold in Lancashire on Saturday, but Garath McCleary's quick-fire brace in the first five minutes pretty much sealed the fate of a struggling Wigan team who sacked Gary Caldwell after an 18 month tenure at the club. A clever assist from George Evans for the first goal and an impressive run from the back from Liam Moore to set up the second saw McCleary score his 5th and 6th goals of the 2016/17 campaign. I'm convinced that on his day the Jamaican international is one of the best wingers in the league, and on Saturday he was completely unplayable.
I'm entirely convinced that Moore is our best signing of the summer, but John Swift is a close second. I've commented in previous match reports that he brings a confidence to the midfield and on Saturday in Wigan he was no different. His awareness of everything else on the pitch is impressive and some of the passes he was making were sublime. His hard work running forward was rewarded in the form of a penalty midway through the second half. Yann Kermorgant broke Reading's run of poor penalties with a calm finish from the spot in what was another consistent performance from the Frenchman.
It was quite interesting to see Adam Le Fondre playing for the Latics and I think this was another indicator of how much we have progressed and developed as a team. He looked like he was struggling up front on his own and proved that even now he is still much more effective when he comes off the bench. I know that Kermorgant isn't going to be a 30-goals-a-season man, but he's got a great footballing brain and offers so much more to the team than I think Le Fondre ever did. I'm not saying that Le Fondre didn't do good things at Reading because he did score some important goals, but I could never see ALF working in Stam's style of play.
Shout out to Yakou Meite who made a brief appearance at the end of the game. It was good to see him back after a reasonably lengthy spell on the sidelines and he looked confident. He was only marginally offside when he netted cleanly from 6 yards, but there's no doubt he'll score a couple for us this season when he's given the chance.
It's so clear now to see how far we have come since last season. Games like the ones we've had in the last couple of weeks against Wigan, Forest and Rotherham would have easily been draws or losses in the not so distant past. We look like we're up for every game now, and there's a real sense of teamwork in this squad. They look like they want to do well for each other and Stam clearly has the respect of the dressing room.
It's a bit unnerving being so high up the table. In a good way though. I'm 100% sure I'm not the only Reading fan who wasn't expecting such a good start to the season. To be a third of the way through now and we're 4th is amazing, and to know that there's still so much more to come from this team is even better. It's the most excited I've been as a Reading fan for a while and I'm definitely liking Jaap Stam's football team building dream...
Points change on this stage in 2015/16 (52): +4
Points change on this stage in 2005/06 (106): -7
Points change on this stage in 1997/98 (42): +13
Projected Points Total 2016/17: 81