Iain McInnes has revealed Richie Barker had already interviewed for alternative work as the clock ticked down on his disastrous Pompey reign.
The Blues are presently top of League One, seeking a return to the Championship following seven seasons away.
Yet in March 2014, following a 3-0 defeat at Rochdale, the Blues were 90th in the top-four tiers – the lowest position in club history.
Manager Barker subsequently left by mutual consent days later.
However, former Pompey chairman McInnes claims Barker had already lined-up his next job – as assistant manager at MK Dons, announced the following day.
He said: ‘After Rochdale you thought to yourself “What have we actually done? What’s the point of coming this far to actually find ourselves playing in the Conference?”.
‘We looked like a team that had given up way before the end of the season, certainly relegation fodder.
‘Rather than make another change, I went to Andy (Awford), who I was talking to a lot of the time about his thoughts, and tried to get him to come in and work alongside Richie for the remainder of the season.
‘As it happened, the very next day after Rochdale, Richie was in London interviewing for another job because he felt his time was up at Pompey.
‘That was not any conversation we’d had, although he did tell us he was in London. I don’t think he was really settled at the club.
‘I don’t want to criticise the guy, good luck to him wherever he is, but there is no question I was the one most concerned in trying to keep him in a job – at a time he was arranging to go somewhere else.
‘After leaving us, he was in a job (MK Dons) within 48 hours.
‘That job interview is something I would later hear through the grapevine, because nothing stays secret.
‘To think that evening after Richie’s job interview, I met with him and Andy at a hotel in Chichester for a long conversation about keeping him as manager and pairing them.
‘We had gone from the sublime to the ridiculous, managers who bled blue to a manager and a managerial senior coach in Steve Coppell who never really tried to create any rapport with the football club.
‘The next morning, Richie went to see Mark Catlin and said he appreciated the efforts we put in to try to keep him in his position, but that wasn’t for him and left by mutual consent.
‘At that stage, Andy had made up his mind he wasn't going to do it anyway, so would probably have resulted in Richie’s firing, truth of the matter.’
Barker’s awful 109-day spell as Pompey manager yielded just four wins from 20 matches, with only 11 goals scored.
He was replaced by caretaker boss Awford, who inspired the team to safety with three games to spare.
Barker is currently assistant manager at Rotherham.
McInnes added: ‘Certainly at our club Richie didn’t do himself any favours, perhaps he didn’t do himself any justice.
‘Before appointing him, we asked a few people around football, as you tend to do.
‘On reflection, most thought he was a decent coach – I don't remember anybody saying he was a great manager, because he had only been in the job for five minutes.
‘He was a hard worker, he had his own ideas, but struggled with the expectation at Fratton Park.
‘He wasn’t the only one – and at the end of the day it was quite clear it wasn’t going to work.’
Iain McInnes reflects more on Pompey’s fall and rise in The News and at portsmouth.co.uk tomorrow