Lawrence wants good reception for ex-Pompey boss

Steve Cotterill, left, and Liam Lawrence during their days together at Pompey Picture: Robin Jones
Steve Cotterill, left, and Liam Lawrence during their days together at Pompey Picture: Robin Jones
Pompey striker Conor Chaplin struggles to hide his disappointment

Southend 3-1 Pompey: They said what?

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It was the team that Cotts built.

Now the former Pompey boss is plotting the downfall of the side he emotionally departed from just three weeks ago.

It promises to be an intense occasion at Fratton Park tomorrow as Steve Cotterill’s Nottingham Forest arrive in town.

Of the current Pompey set-up, 13 of the players were brought to the club by the 47-year-old from Cheltenham.

One of them, Liam Lawrence, was quickly handed the skipper’s armband and became a key figure of his regime.

The 29-year-old will now be out to inflict defeat on the boss he built a close affinity with.

Lawrence admits emotions will again boil to the surface after another tumultuous few weeks at Fratton Park.

But there will be no room for sentiment when it comes to Cotterill once 3pm arrives.

‘This is the big one for me,’ said Pompey’s captain.

‘It will be strange in a way. Steve brought me to the club and we had a good year together. It will be good to see him.

‘He made me captain, which I’m very proud of.

‘It was emotional when he left. Everyone knows that.

‘I spoke to him on the phone when he left and he said how tough a decision it was for him.

‘It was a decision he made after considering it well.

‘He didn’t make it in a day and say “I’m off”.

‘It was something he had to think about.

‘He’s done a fantastic job for us, you can’t hide that.

‘He felt it was time to move on, so we wished him the best.

‘I hope he does well at Forest because he’s a good guy as well as a good manager.

‘And I hope he gets a good reception because he helped save the club in a lot of ways.

‘I thought the fans were quite good with him – and hopefully will be tomorrow.

‘I’m sure they will be in good voice, regardless.’

Lawrence added: ‘When I came I think we had two points and we ended up on 58, so he didn’t do a bad job did he?

‘It’s certainly going to be interesting – but now we want three points against Steve.’

Indifferent results bred uncertainty before Cotterill’s departure.

Whether the axe was close to falling was definitely a factor in him taking the security of a three-and-a-half year deal at the City Ground.

Those fans who had their doubts about Cotterill were making themselves heard, too.

But the belief in the ranks was that Pompey were capable of turning the corner under his charge.

Lawrence said: ‘We had great togetherness when he was here.

‘That’s one thing he instilled in us.

‘There was a togetherness, even when things have not gone so well.

‘When there was trouble, the one thing we didn’t do was rot.

‘If we lost we got on with it, earned our crust and corrected it.

‘He had us all shaking hands every morning. There were encouraging signs but the results weren’t there at times.

‘We lacked that killer instinct and edge in the box.

‘Then we concede a sloppy goal like at Leeds and Hull.

‘It was no disgrace. We had a bit of a bad run, Forest came in and that was it.

‘He’s gone to a good club in the end – but he’s left a good club behind as well.’