Portsmouth 2 West Ham United 0: Pompey defeat leaves Pardew fearing for job

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The Independent Football

Decisive moves are expected to be made this week concerning the possible takeover of West Ham United. If only, for their supporters, the team could be so decisive on the pitch.

The consortium with Kia Joorabchian as a figurehead, the Israeli property magnate Eli Papoushado as its main financial backer and the influential bankers NM Rothschild's also now apparently on board could lodge its bid today.

At the same time, the group led by Icelandic businessman Eggert Magnusson, backed by an unnamed Scandinavian banker, is due to return to the talks with a more specific price on what it would pay and greater detail of how its bid is to be funded. The likelihood of a third bidder for the Premiership club, which is valued at £70m, and has debts of £23.5m, cannot be discounted.

It all makes for a continued air of uncertainty around West Ham which has been made all the more uncomfortable by a sixth successive defeat - four in the Premiership and two in the Uefa Cup - without even a goal being scored.

Their manager, Alan Pardew, as brave and honest as ever, has admitted he is now starting to fear for his own future. "Any manager who has lost six games has to have a certain amount of fear about his job - otherwise he would be silly," Pardew said.

Not that Pardew has lost belief - or confidence - in himself or his team's ability to pull themselves clear of trouble. "You have to be big enough and strong enough to take it. I am, and I hope the players are," he said. "I've always thought of our players as strong characters and now it is up to them to go and prove it."

There are signs of hope - not least in the return to form of the captain, Nigel Reo-Coker, who came closest to scoring for West Ham, even though, for all his dynamism, he was outshone by Portsmouth's powerful young midfielder Manuel Fernandes. The effectiveness of his display highlighted the mix of promise and experience that Harry Redknapp has created at Fratton Park. Such is the sudden strength of his vibrant squad that he did not even place England's Croatian tormentor Niko Kranjcar in his squad.

Redknapp also offered tea to Pardew before the match, and sympathy afterwards, and could be forgiven for his own immodesty in proclaiming that Portsmouth, now third in the table, had been a "sleeping giant for 50 years and would be sleeping now if I hadn't come back".

It was Anton Ferdinand and West Ham goalkeeper Roy Carroll - set to lose his place to Robert Green - who were sleeping when Portsmouth went ahead. Nwankwo Kanu was allowed space to head in a cross by the impressive Glen Johnson for his sixth goal of the season. Then Andrew Cole, 35 yesterday and on his home debut, held off Jonathan Spector and drilled in the second late on.

Goals: Kanu 1-0 (25); Cole 2-0 (82) Portsmouth (4-4-2): James; Johnson, Primus, Campbell, Stefanovic; O'Neil, Mendes, Fernandes, Taylor; Mwaruwari (Cole, 77), Kanu (LuaLua, 67). Substitutes not used: Kiely (gk), Pamarot, Davis.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Carroll; Spector, Gabbidon, Ferdinand, Konchesky; Benayoun (Mascherano, 86), Mullins, Reo-Coker, Etherington; Sheringham (Cole, 70), Zamora (Harewood, 70). Substitutes not used: Green (gk), Dailly.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Booked: Portsmouth: O'Neil, Campbell, Mendes, Johnson. West Ham: Reo-Coker, Etherington, Konchesky.

Man of the match: Fernandes.

Attendance: 20,142.

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