West Ham top of the league! You really are having a laugh

The Hammers may have been thumped 5-1 at Ipswich but they are still two points clear in the Championship

Sometimes as a West Ham football fan you have to wonder why you bother.

Not only did they have to sit through 90 minutes of excruciatingly bad football from their team in Siberian conditions, they were then treated to engineering works on the way home on the train, or roadworks on the way to the A12.

Match-day planning is clearly not something that figures too highly in Suffolk, though manager Sam Allardyce had a few choice words for the planners at the FA who scheduled this match for transfer-deadline day.

“I have to say publicly that the Football League, whoever is in the administration department, should really look at themselves,” said the furious boss after the match.

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“Putting a fixture on the last day of the transfer window, it is a really poor decision by whoever made it.

“I thought as professional as they are they wouldn’t have allowed that sort of thing to happen because the window is bad enough as it is, but to have a fixture on the very last day is a really, really bad thing.”

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He was right, but it was not an excuse for this dreadful, abject display. From the very first minute when Ipswich almost scored until the last when they notched an embarrassing fifth, this was a clueless, rudderless, tactically inept display against a side who had not won in seven matches.

“I am bitterly disappointed,” said a clearly shocked Allardyce. “I didn’t expect us to put in such a poor performance defensively.

“We just defensively disintegrated and Ipswich exploited the gaping holes that we left in our back four. When you do that against anybody in this league you are going to get punished.

“They did that and won deservedly so.”

It took just three minutes for the home side to open their account when Jay Emmanuel-Thomas showed quick feet to get past his idling marker and feed Michael Chopra and the striker thumped home from inside the box.

Two minutes later, Matt Taylor picked out Carlton Cole with a cross, but the striker, without a goal since Boxing Day, placed a looping header against the post almost in slow motion.

Slow seemed to be the order of the day for West Ham as Ipswich stayed in charge.

Andy Drury forced a save from Robert Green and then he delivered the corner that saw Tommy Smith nod on and Daryl Murphy head home from close range.

West Ham threw themselves a lifeline right on half time when Mark Noble’s free kick was headed in by Jack Collison and 2-1 at the break would have given them impetus.

But it was not to be. George McCartney clumsily brought down Chopra and though he escaped what should have been a red card, Lee Martin buried the penalty and Ipswich went in 3-1 up.

“For the first goal, Chopra had so much room to do what he wanted and there wasn’t one of our defenders in sight,” lamented the manager. “The second goal, came from a corner, letting them have free headers, not just one but two, and we got our defensive side of things wrong tonight.”

That was an understatement. Sam Baldock replaced Noble at the break as West Ham went 4-4-2 and looked to get back, but in truth, despite having more shots than the home side, most of them were woefully weak efforts.

Emmanuel-Thomas thum-ped one in off the post on 64 minutes to make it 4-1 and the misery was complete in injury time when Jason Scotland set up the striker to roll in his second and Town’s fifth.

Long before the end, the Ipswich fans were chanting ‘top of the league – you’re having a laugh!’ They were spot on.

West Ham: Green, Faubert, McCartney, Tomkins, Reid, Collison, Noble (Baldock h/t), Nolan, Lansbury, Taylor (Hall 70), Cole (Nouble 70).

Attendance: 22,185.

Referee: Fred Graham 6.

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