Whittingham saw his contract terminated on Monday evening after a run of four straight defeats saw Pompey crash out of two cups and slump to 18th in League Two.
Awford, who is the club's academy manager, has taken the temporary reins - starting with Tuesday's home clash with in-form Southend
- a position he is surprised to find himself in.
"I felt for Guy, he is a good friend of mine and always will be, and I was a little bit surprised," he told BBC Radio Solent.
"You'd have to ask the board if he deserved more time.
"I haven't discussed the situation in depth with Guy, but I've met him, we've had a brief conversation, and he knows my thoughts.
"You'd have to ask him if he's surprised. But we can't change what's gone before, we can only try to change what happens going forward, starting against Southend. I know the fans will give the team their full backing, as long as the team puts a full shift in.
"It'll be a proud moment to lead the team, but not one I wished would come along in these circumstances because I wanted Guy to succeed, I really and truly did."