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Bluebird Manager Feeling Chirpy!

By: Richard Lord
Date: 28/04/2002

FORMER Grimsby Town manager Lennie Lawrence has said that being axed from the Blundell Park hot seat was the 'biggest professional favour' of his career, and the decision will be made all the more sweeter if Cardiff win promotion from Division Two.

Lawrence was out of a job for just three days before he joined up with Sam Hamman and Alan Cork at Ninian Park as director of football after being given the boot at Grimsby Town.

Now, Lawrence's team have the chance to reach Division One, if they can first overcome a strong Stoke City side in the play-off semi finals and then win the final down the road at the Millennium Stadium.

Speaking to the Grimsby Sports Telegraph Lawrence said: "The first year I was at Grimsby was very enjoyable, culminating in that brilliant last win over Fulham. Nobody likes getting sacked but Grimsby have done me the big professional favour of my career."

And Lawrence admitted the trip back to Cleethorpes would be the first game he'll be looking forward to. "If we get up, the first game I'll be looking for will be the one up there. We'd probably have to leave about three days before because it's so far away.

"It would be nice to go back in the first division. Not for revenge, but because I made a lot of friends up there and I liked the people."

The former Luton and Charlton manager knows the task that lies ahead, and he feels he is the one to take Cardiff to the Promised Land. "The expectation here is massive and this club, and the fans, are ready for the first division and beyond.

"The resources here, the infrastructure, the fan base and the plans for a new stadium means that this is a club set to do more than just survive in the first division."

Cardiff's storming finish to the season propelled them to fourth in the table with 82 points - the same amount Brentford finished with, and who were just 13 minutes away from playing First Division football.

The Bluebirds are undefeated under Lawrence, but the manager believes it was all down to the players. "I just do what I do. I tried to pull everybody together and changed the system.

"There are some talented players here. We've changed the training and tinkered with a few things but it's the players who have worked very hard."

"I thought the play-offs were possible but to be honest I'm still sick that we missed automatic promotion by just a point."

"If we had won at Huddersfield when we had a stone-wall penalty turned down it would have been so different."

"But I've got to be happy with the lads. Players have come in and made an impact at a crucial time. Peter Thorne coming back from injury was massive for us and obviously Andy Campbell has made a difference since we signed him."

And surrounding the speculation that Lawrence is lining up a bid for the Mariners' out-of-contract Simon Ford, the Londoner has revealed he is not interested in the Young Player of the Year.

"We've got lots of talented young centre-backs and we won't be doing anything. That's not to say I don't think he's a good player, because he is. But we don't need him."

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