Ricardo Rocha has backed Guy Whittingham to be named as Pompey’s permanent manager.
The popular Blues defender was brought back to the club by Whittingham in November after a spell out of the game and has repaid that faith with his consistent displays.
But while the caretaker boss registered his first win in charge at Crewe only last weekend, Rocha believes he should be given the opportunity to rebuild next season.
‘I think he deserves the opportunity to be manager next season,’ said Rocha.
‘He is such a nice guy, he’s a good manager and this is a great opportunity for him.
‘Him and Andy (Awford) have been doing a great job under the circumstances.
‘I didn’t know Andy that well when he was Academy manager but it has been a pleasure to work with him as well. They have been really good for the team. These guys understand the club.
‘I think Guy deserves the chance to build the team that he thinks is the best way to go for next season.
‘He is still starting out as a manager but he has a big knowledge of the game and was a very good player.
‘He has all the potential to be a top manager but it helps that he was such a good player for this club.
‘He showed what he could do for this club as a player and now he deserves to be given the opportunity to show what he can do as a manager.’
Whittingham has had to contend with an ever-changing squad list during his stint in charge – with on-loan striker Patrick Agyemang the latest to leave – a reduction in the playing budget and the departure from the club’s training ground.
Relegation to League Two now looks a certainty, but the team have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks and Rocha believes some critics have overlooked the factors that have made Whittingham’s job so difficult.
He said: ‘I think some people were being a little bit too harsh on him because they don’t know the conditions he is working under.
‘We don’t have a training ground, players have been coming in and going out every week. I’m not crying about it, but it has been difficult.
‘The team is now improving because we have a bunch of players who are here and together. Nobody is going in or out all the time.
‘It’s also more optimistic because we won at Crewe. We have been working really well in the past few games and getting close but a result like that helps everyone.’
Whittingham has already indicated he would like to retain Rocha’s services next term.
But with Pompey’s future still to be resolved, the 34-year-old Portuguese is wary of making any plans.
He said: ‘We can’t think about next season yet. In the situation the club are in, we have to think about things week to week or month to month. Hopefully things at the club will be sorted soon.’