The fervour with which the rumour spread said it all.
Phones rang, texts beeped and concerned faces exchanged information in the Bridgford Stand at the City Ground, as the intensity of the talk gathered pace.
Steve Cotterill, right, had just paid tribute to his club’s supporters – in the wake of an agonising defeat – with a personal gesture of thanks for their loyalty.
But was this goodbye?
The Pompey boss offered raised arms, a thumbs-up and wave of the hands – and that was enough to send the rumour mill into meltdown.
The manner in which Cotterill’s gesture was feverishly received spoke volumes about his standing with supporters nowadays.
Just as significant, however, was the furore which ensued among fans over talk he was on his way.
It was a fascinating indication of Cotterill’s elevated status among the Fratton faithful.
Despite Pompey’s recent shaky form and porous defence, the message has got across to supporters they have the right man at the helm of their club.
They see the mitigating circumstances and they now also see the right person to put it right.
He may be outspoken, he may be difficult to control at times and he may have had plenty to say about his working constraints in the past few weeks.
But those kind of issues are all by-products of the make-up of a football manager with the kind of intensity which burns in the man from Cheltenham.
If he’s the right man to help rebuild Pompey on the playing front, which he undoubtedly is in this terrain, putting up with those problems is a small price to pay.
Cotterill, in his own inimitable way, said it himself in the wake of a loss at Forest which would have made him miserable company for anyone who has had to put up with him in the past few days – he’s a tough so-and-so.
That statement might have been peppered with the kind of industrial lexicon that is the domain of football but those who know the 46-year-old best know it to be true.
Cotterill’s quality as a manager cannot be questioned.
The thoroughness of his work, attention to detail and obsessive desire to have an all-encompassing control over all football factors puts some previous Pompey bosses well and truly in the shade.
The weekend reaction from fans over his feared exit tells us they now see that.
Cotterill is made of stern stuff, though, and isn’t about to walk away from the job he started just over six months ago.