Steve Cotterill watched Norwich fulfil their Premier League dream and rued: That could have been us.
Despite working wonders to keep Pompey in the Championship amid a season of turmoil, the Blues boss is convinced that, had he received more backing, he could have led the club to promotion.
The Canaries won 1-0 at Fratton Park last night to clinch successive promotions and a return to the top flight.
That sparked emotional scenes among the jubilant away following, who burst on to the pitch to celebrate at the final whistle.
Among those watching was Deepak Chainrai occupying the directors’ box for the second match running, while former administrator Andrew Andronikou was also present.
Chainrai – brother to Blues joint-owner Balram – was part of the board who failed to buy a single player during the January transfer window – one of only three Championship clubs to do so.
And Cotterill is convinced had they opened the purse strings at that time and shown him more support, Pompey fans could also have been celebrating this month.
He said: ‘It was tough for me at the end there going around and getting the lads together to go out for the lap of appreciation.
‘Arguably, pound for pound, we have the best support in the Championship and, do you know what, with a little bit of help and a few players that might have been us this year.I think Norwich have terrific owners, Michael (Wynn-Jones) and Delia (Smith), I am absolutely delighted for them, I really am.
‘They are proper, proper football people and for those two to be in the Premier League is absolutely fantastic.
‘We thought, maybe with a bit of help and a few players more, we could have been up there as well.
‘I don’t think we could have got into the top two like they have done, just simply because our start to the season and bodies we’ve had.
‘I can’t pay our lads enough credit, really, for getting to this point.
‘What makes it hard, though, is someone six foot away from me ends up in the Premier League – but good luck to them.
‘I think they have really, really fought for their football club.’
Simeon Jackson grabbed the deciding goal last night, heading home David Fox’s sublime pass in the 50th minute, as Pompey struggled to apply pressure to the opposition goal.
But Cotterill was satisfied with his side’s resilience.
He added: ‘Norwich knew if they came they would have to dig in and fight for every ball here.
‘But I thought if we could have kept a clean sheet we might have nicked it 1-0.
‘We have not been free-scoring for quite a while now, so we knew we had to keep a clean sheet against a team with so many goalscorers.
‘For much of the night we didn’t do bad keeping them quiet.’