David James has hailed Avram Grant, believing the Israeli manager would have kept Portsmouth in the top-flight if he had been boss all season.
Grant took over at Fratton Park from Paul Hart at the end of November with Pompey rock-bottom of the Premier League with just seven points from their opening 13 games.
The club have since had to wrestle with administration, a nine-point deduction and a further player exodus but Grant has still managed to lead the side to the FA Cup final.
Experienced England international James believes Grant is the club's best boss since Harry Redknapp and he would have easily kept Pompey in the top-flight if he had started the season as manager.
The keeper told The News: "Avram is hands down the best manager we've had since Harry.
"That's not a direct criticism of any individual because the circumstances in which the managers have had to work under since Harry left have been difficult.
"But if Avram had started the season, things would have been very, very different.
"His methodology is very different to a number of previous managers and I am confident we would have stayed up, it's as simple as that."
He added: "Could any other manager have taken us to the FA Cup final like he has?
"I don't think another manager could replicate that achievement. I am not surprised other clubs are being linked with Avram, he is a very good manager.
"It reminds me of a lot of the players we have lost - Pompey's loss will be someone's gain for sure.
"To be able to motivate the team to go through what we've been going through and be successful in the FA Cup takes a lot of effort and, dare I say, a lot of intelligence.
"The man has been awesome and I have the utmost respect for him."
James hailed Grant's ability to keep harmony in the changing room despite the unrest at the club, including the players not being paid.
He added: "As a team, Avram has kept so much harmony in the changing room with what he's done.
"We had the potential and propensity to fall apart at any given moment. There was a lot of unrest before the last transfer window, where people weren't getting paid and it was getting a little bit vocal in the changing room.
"It kind of dissipated quickly. Avram's instructions were basic - you have got to play football.
"The meetings we had and the way he expressed his thoughts kept people together.
"When you listen to him doing his meetings you walk out and think "yes, good" - you feel better.
"You hear about these clubs falling apart left, right and centre but we knew we were together and we kept together.
"The result, without a doubt, has given us the basis and foundation to be successful in the Cup run."