Billed as "the debtors' derby", it was perhaps inevitable that one of the managers would leave Fratton Park yesterday afternoon feeling shortchanged. As it was, Portsmouth's Tony Adams fitted that description perfectly. He could only look at Craig Bellamy and wish that Jermain Defoe had been similarly inspired by all the transfer speculation. The latter missed a penalty, while the former scored twice.
These two clubs have much in common when it comes to balance sheets – Portsmouth are reportedly £95m in debt while the West Ham deficit is said to stand at £40m – but after this, the contrast between Adams and his counterpart Gianfranco Zola was pronounced. While Zola beamed the smile of the temporarily relieved, Adams told of the hard questions he had felt compelled to put to his squad.
"I asked them if their heads have been turned," he said following their third consecutive league defeat. "If they don't want to be here then they're no good to anyone. I wanted to make it very clear, because we've been in this situation before and we need to fight."
Zola would say amen to that. The little Italian will certainly be desperate to keep hold of Bellamy. Tottenham's Harry Redknapp has admitted making a £6m bid for the Welshman, which on this evidence is cheeky even by wheelin'-dealing 'Arry's standards.
Zola did not want to be drawn on the details of the offer, but his feelings regarding Bellamy were all too obvious, and so they should be seeing as he has likely lost Dean Ashton for the rest of the season with an ankle injury. "The club knows I don't want to sell Bellamy – we will see what will happen," said Zola. "He's an important player for us. He's a pro. The way he trains and everything is absolutely spot on. Someone else might have been affected by all the talk before. It was a very good day for him."
Bellamy's goals were both well taken but Robert Green's contribution was that bit more influential. Until Carlton Cole popped up in the 67th minute to give West Ham their advantage, Portsmouth should have been at least two to the good. Green, along with the profligacy of Peter Crouch and Defoe, had made sure they were frustrated.
It had seemed so straightforward for Pompey when Nadir Belhadj had finished off the move he had started in the eighth minute. But then West Ham's 20-year-old Jack Collison threaded a shot through not just one set of legs but two – first those of Sylvain Distin and then under David James – and from there the match turned all basketball. It went this way and then that, but it was Portsmouth doing most with their possession.
Just before the break, Defoe was presented with the chance to put one over on his old team from the penalty spot when Lucas Neill crudely pulled at Crouch, but to the delight of the massed West Ham support behind Green's goal he fired woefully wide.
At least Crouch could blame the goalkeeper's excellence for his blank afternoon as Green stood up to all his best efforts. With an hour gone, Portsmouth were launching attacks at will but could not find a way through.
And when Cole was there to tap in Collison's rebound, their agony was compounded. Bellamy then grabbed his late brace to finish them off. The first came when the ball was booted up field following Mark Wilson hitting the post for Portsmouth. That summed up the home side's Boxing Day.
Goals: Belhadj (8) 1-0; Collison (20) 1-1; Cole (67) 1-2; Bellamy (70) 1-3; Bellamy (83) 1-4.
Portsmouth (4-4-2): James; Wilson, Campbell, Distin, Belhadj; Little (Traoré 71) Davis, Hughes, Kranjcar; Crouch, Defoe (Kanu, 73). Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Hreidarsson, Diop, Nugent, Pamarot.
West Ham United (4-4-2): Green; Neill (Faubert, h-t), Davenport, Upson, Ilunga; Behrami, Noble (Boa Morte, 73), Parker, Collison; Cole (Tristan, 87), Bellamy. Substitutes not used: Lastuvka (gk), Mullins, Collins, Di Michele.
Referee: S Bennett (Kent).
Booked: Portsmouth Wilson. West Ham Noble, Behrami, Parker.
Man of the match: Bellamy.