Lawrence still angry over Pompey decline

Vladimir Antonov (left) and Roman Dubov
Vladimir Antonov (left) and Roman Dubov
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Liam Lawrence has already moved his young family back up north. Now he expects to follow.

The tremors from the aftermath of Pompey’s past owners continue to be felt eight months on. Similarly the anger of the Blues skipper has not subsided.

Barely 12 months ago the Republic of Ireland international was settled in his Warsash home, buoyant about the season ahead.

Only Leicester had spent more money in the Championship following the arrival of Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI) as Fratton Park’s latest owners.

Retained as Pompey captain, Lawrence was then-manager Steve Cotterill’s confidante, his sounding board to debate more player recruits.

He could only see good times ahead. Under the regime of CSI and chief executive David Lampitt, the fans likewise.

Pre-season 2011 was to be a fresh start, a new era, a time for Pompey to push on up the Championship table.

Today, all those ambitiously recruited last summer are up for sale. Some have already departed.

Lawrence, himself back following a loan spell at Cardiff in the final few months of last season, is anticipating following suit.

Despite having taken a wage deferral along with the rest of the players to produce a £5,000-a-week ceiling, his salary is still prohibitive for the club.

On Monday the midfielder will return to training with his team-mates, among them Tal Ben Haim, Kanu and Aaron Mokoena who have drawn criticism from administrator Trevor Birch since the last campaign.

For the 30-year-old, though, his anger is directed at those who once ran the club – and sent it spiralling towards liquidation. Again.

He said: ‘This time last year we were all hoping to turn it around and help the club going forward. Then we were stitched up again.

‘The owners got in, tried to do things their way and left the club in a mess.

‘Those people have gone now and left behind others who have suffered.

‘Look at what the fans have had to put up with and others who work at the club. How is that right?

‘It is all about other people’s mistakes and I am still bitter about that. It really gets to me.

‘This is wrong what has happened to this football club and it has affected us all.

‘The players as well, we have all been hit hard.

‘I’ve had to move the family back up north, near Stoke.

‘We were happy in Warsash but I don’t know where my future is going to be and it is important to me they feel settled.

‘I’ll be going to training on Monday but will probably have to drive down there in my socks and boots and check in a hotel for a while.

‘It will be a nightmare but it’s my job so I’m not going to go around complaining about it.

‘Some people at this club have lost their jobs during the last year.

‘It’s such a shame it has all come to this.

‘This time last year we thought if the campaign ahead wasn’t the one we could have a good push for the play-offs then the next one would. It didn’t happen, though.’

With Cardiff still showing an interest in a deal for Lawrence, talks have yet to begin on a compromise agreement to end his Fratton spell.

The former Stoke man represents a saleable asset – and Birch would inevitably prefer to cash in rather than pay him off.

It is a different situation compared to Ben Haim and Kanu, who have not attracted interest from other clubs.

In the meantime, Lawrence and Pompey must wait before what seems to be a certain parting of the ways.

Until then he has no problem working with boss Appleton, who continues to impress him.

Lawrence added: ‘Michael is a man and a gentleman who all the lads respect.

‘He came to the club wanting to turn it around – then all this happened.

‘It will make him a better manager, though. Nothing could have prepared him for Pompey.

‘He definitely has another tough year in front of him but he will come through it, I have no doubt about that.’