This was quite the inauguration day party for Ian Holloway. Taking charge of Crystal Palace for the first time, he only had to pick their same team from Saturday to see them tear Ipswich Town to pieces, win 5-0 and go top of the Championship.
The night could not have possibly gone any better. "It was a fantastic performance from start to finish," Holloway said. "They murdered us", admitted the Ipswich manager, Mick McCarthy, who had his debut win on Saturday and now has months of hard work ahead of him.
For all the adulation Holloway received, this was more about what he inherited than what he imposed. Holloway made no changes from Curtis Fleming's side which beat Blackburn Rovers 2-0 here on Saturday. Even before last night, Palace had won eight and drawn three of their last 11 league games. The Holloway era, clearly, is not going to require much rebuilding work.
"The whole set-up is as professional as it could be," said Holloway, thrilled with what he has found. "From my point of view, whatever Dougie [Freedman] and Lennie [Lawrence] have done, it's already in place. Pinch me I'm dreaming."
Freedman has certainly left behind two very good wingers. Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha were both excellent. Bolasie put them ahead with a delightful lob mid-way through a fairly even first half. Zaha came out in the second half as if he was desperate to prove what everyone already knows – that he will be the most important player of the Holloway era. With imagination and skill unlike anyone else in the division, he was part of the winning of three quick penalties within 10 minutes at the start of the second half.
"God knows how good this boy is going to be I really don't know," said Holloway, genuinely perplexed. "I have never seen anything like the things he does. I want to give him another ball so I can see him with it all the time."
First Zaha cut in from the left, beat two defenders before being tripped by Luke Chambers. Five minutes later Zaha dragged defenders towards him, and fed Jonathan Parr, who crossed to the far post where Aaron Cresswell pushed Owen Garvan. Five minutes after that, Zaha played in Glenn Murray before the ball broke to Garvan who was felled by Chambers.
Murray scored the first two penalties but not the third. He got his hat-trick two minutes later, though, turning in Joel Ward's cross. From there it was keep-ball before Andre Moritz exchanged passes with Parr and scored the fifth in added time.
"The energy around the ground is fantastic," said Holloway, the new manager roared off by the fans at the end. "I can't wait to get out there again."
Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1): Speroni; Ward, Ramage, Delaney, Parr; Dikgacoi, Jedinak; Zaha (Moxey, 89), Garvan (Morris, 68), Bolasie; Murray (Easter, 68).
Ipswich Town (4-1-4-1): Henderson; Edwards, Chambers, Higginbotham, Cresswell; Drury (Emmanuel-Thomas, 70); Martin, Reo-Coker, Wellens, Murphy (Smith, 70); Campbell.
Referee D Sheldrake (Surrey)