Two goals in five second-half minutes by Glen Johnson and Hermann Hreidarsson took Pompey to a desperately needed win to mask another patchy performance that might make the current Mexico manager wince. The home faithful will not care, however.
Head boy: Hermann Hreidarsson (above) scores Portsmouth's second goal
Portsmouth v Manchester City: How the game unfolded
PORTSMOUTH NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WEB
MAN CITY NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WEB
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A first victory in 10 Premier League games has soothed, however temporarily, the anxieties around the club, with the relegation zone now four points beneath them after the freefall that led to the sacking of Tony Adams.
As for the eve-of-match re-arrest and bailing of executive chairman Peter Storrie in the City of London Police's inquiry into the club's financial affairs, it is remarkable what a good result can do for a troubled club.
'A good start,' announced the caretaker- manager Paul Hart, elevated from the youth academy. 'The players put in a lot of hard work and showed a lot of discipline. We have been shipping a few goals, some late on, and all we worked on was defensive shape and a few set-pieces.'
And, should any Eriksson deal fall through, would he want the job? 'There was a bit of a tingle in the stomach that I haven't felt for a few years but I am not looking beyond next week,' he said.
Huge lift: Portsmouth's Glen Johnson (second left) celebrates scoring the opening goal
How Adams must have wished he could have encountered this Manchester City display, the game instead postponed from four weeks ago. City were shockingly unrecognisable from the side who beat Portsmouth 6-0 at Eastlands in September and were miserably toothless given their attacking talent. An away record of one win all season, with four points from their last 10 games, tells of a side lacking stomach for a struggle.
'We are not the biggest side physically but we should be able to make it difficult,' said the City manager Mark Hughes. 'It's about having the mental attitude to get the job done. We never looked like we were going to make something happen.'
The linking of his City predecessor Eriksson to Portsmouth is the most fanciful pairing of manager to club this season but Pompey seem serious as they seek to convey the impression of money and being in the big league still competing for the big names. The Swede is unlikely to move for anything other than a personal fortune and another sizeable sum for new players.
Actually, Pompey possess resources for neither purpose, as Adams found out in his three-month tenure. Since they would also need to find compensation for the Mexicans, it would need new investment either borrowed or from new owners to attract Eriksson.
Irony abounded yesterday as they beat Eriksson's former charges, now among the country's richest due to Arab money. For all that, City remain a work in progress, despite the outlay of some £46million in the January transfer window, and again looked a disparate collection rather than a team.
In charge: Portsmouth's caretaker manager Paul Hart, right, and his assistant Brian Kidd
Hughes was without the suspended Shaun Wright-Phillips and Richard Dunne and had to give a league debut to Shaleum Logan, a youth team product who turned 21 last month, with Micah Richards injured, but still City should have shown more.
They lacked urgency in their approach play with too many anonymous. It took almost 20 minutes to force an attempt on goal, Elano's shot over the bar revealing him as a shadow of the player who impressed for Brazil against Italy in midweek.
It took another 10 to trouble David James on his record 536th Premier League appearance, Nedum Onuoha's header from Elano's free-kick straight at the goalkeeper. After that, it was the dying minutes before James pulled off a proper save, from enthusiastic substitute Ched Evans's header.
Record-breaker: David James
Portsmouth, their shape tweaked by Hart, who was fortunate to have Niko Kranjcar back after injury to play just behind Peter Crouch, were little better for much of the game. David Nugent did get into some promising positions, his self-belief improved after three goals in three games following Adams giving him a run in the side, but he was wasteful.
Early on, he glanced a header wide from Johnson's cross and missed a giltedged chance early in the second half when he screwed his shot across goal after Kranjcar had beaten the offside trap with a through-ball. Then it came, Johnson's goal from all his own work.
There looked little danger to City when he cut in from the right past his former Chelsea colleague Wayne Bridge, but he sent in a fierce shot that Shay Given failed to hold.
From the rebound, the Pompey full-back was first to react and thumped his shot this time into the roof of the City net. Soon it was two. Jermaine Pennant swung in a corner from the right and Hreidarsson got ahead of Vincent Kompany to send a thumping header past Given. A welcome present for Sven, or a Hart stopper?