ONE YEAR ago this week, a tearful Steve Cotterill drove away from the Pompey training ground for a final time.
An emotional farewell with staff and players was followed by a quick exchange with the media who were lingering outside – and that was it.
Now successor Michael Appleton is the Blues boss being coveted by other clubs.
Burnley are doggedly pursuing the 36-year-old as they seek a swift replacement for Eddie Howe, who returned to Bournemouth last week.
As it stands, they are the overwhelming favourites to land Pompey’s manager.
And that is not just bookies’ talk.
Bolton have also shown an interest – although Appleton remains an outside bet for that one.
Dismiss it as idle gossip if you will, shrug it off as nothing more than tittle tattle, but please don’t be so naive.
Nothing has yet been explored through official channels, but those clubs’ desire is undoubtedly there.
For the Blues boss is recognised as a highly-promising young manager within the game.
He turned down numerous offers to quit Fratton Park during the summer, in favour of soldiering on.
After all, the Salford lad could vision a bright future, armed with a new owner and a £4m playing budget.
Now that eyesight is beginning to fail.
Pompey remain in administration, the squad strangled by the 20-man restriction from the Football League and an existence constructed monthly.
As for the ownership battle, that has clearly taken another dramatic twist after last Thursday’s meeting by league chiefs.
Don’t expect it to be resolved any time soon, with the prospect of a court case looming to remove the Fratton Park charge from Portpin’s grasp.
Appleton arrived at this football club on November 10, 2011, looking for a chance to prove himself as a manager.
To date, that chance has never truly materialised.
Convers Sports Initiatives’ administration, followed by Pompey’s three months later, ensured his five-year plan was torn up just 19 days in.
Since then Appleton has been inhibited by an infinite number of complications created by those to have held the club’s purse strings.
Through it all, the former West Brom coach has stood defiant, weather-beaten and windswept – yet still refusing to buckle to the cruel elements lashing him daily.
Worryingly, however, every man has his breaking point.
Pompey’s boss has insisted he is settled on the south coast.
He claims the fact that his 10-year-old and six-year-old sons reside up north with his ex-wife is no motivating factor.
A man of immense integrity whose Fratton spell has been characterised by his honesty, there is no reason to suggest that is not the case.
But Appleton craves a stable environment to display his managerial skills.
Eleven months and eight days into his Fratton reign, that has sadly eluded him.
Predecessors Avram Grant and Steve Cotterill walked away from the troubled club.
Indicative then of what those managing Pompey have had to endure.
We wait to see if Appleton follows suit.
But deep down, could anyone begrudge him exploring management elsewhere?