JIM SMITH has tipped Andy Awford to go to the top of the management tree.
And the former Pompey boss believes he will carry the Blues to success along the way.
Smith has no doubt the man he worked with at close quarters as both a player and coach is equipped to have a fruitful career as a boss.
The Bald Eagle remains one of the most popular Pompey managers of modern times.
That’s after taking his side to the FA Cup semi-final in 1992, and missing out on automatic promotion to the Premier League by one goal the following season.
Awford was a key component in those sides and later worked with Smith as coach at Oxford.
And Smith is confident the 41-year-old is going to make his mark as a manager.
‘Andy is Mr Portsmouth and I genuinely believe he’ll go all the way to the top,’ said Smith.
‘I’ve worked with him as a player and a coach, and I’ve seen the work he’s done.
‘I like his work and I like him as a person, based on character.
‘I genuinely think he’ll show what he can do and what he is capable of doing in the future.
‘He worked for me at the start of his coaching career outside of Pompey.
‘Andy has always impressed me with his intelligence and honesty.
‘I’ve always felt he has a lot to offer, and now he has a great opportunity with a great club.
‘He is Portsmouth mad and I’m very confident he will do very well with them this season.
‘He is a deep-thinking football man and I think he is very astute.
‘He knows all that stuff but he has that edge to his motivation as well. He has that factor, too, which is vital.
‘The one thing I’ve always known about him since I worked with him as a young kid is he’s always been a very intelligent footballer.
‘Obviously, he is taking that into his coaching and management career.
‘I’m pretty confident we will see a very successful Portsmouth side next season.
‘I think they will be there or thereabouts.’
Smith reckons there will be an extra edge to Awford’s work after he spent a period out of football.
He went into teaching and media work before returning to oversee the Academy, when appointed by Steve Cotterill in 2011.
Smith feels that experience will give him an advantage not all managers possess.
He said: ‘Andy’s had to go out in the big, wide world and earn a living outside of football.
‘You always want to be in football and he would’ve always wanted to be in football.
‘It’s been his life, so being away would have given him that hunger.
‘He’s come back after being on the outside – and he won’t want to see it again.’