Pride comes before Promotion call - Wales On Sunday.

Last updated : 02 March 2003 By Michael Morris

CARDIFF CITY boss Lennie Lawrence has spelled out why he has to take City up this season - professional pride.

Cynics would say there is another carrot for the Londoner, too - a £150,000 promotion bonus added to his six-figure salary.

And Bluebirds' owner Sam Hammam would also be under pressure to adjust Lawrence's current six-month roll-on deal if Cardiff reach the top two tiers of British soccer for the first time since 1985.

But Lawrence insists: "I'm desperate to get Cardiff City out of the Second Division from a professional aspect.

"This is nothing to do with money. It's about me being able to coach players and manage people at the highest level possible. It's also to do with giving the people of Cardiff Division One football - something they haven't tasted for almost 20 years.

"I can't deny that the material gain should naturally follow this, though.

"But I don't want to continue managing in Division Two - and I've never been a boss in Division Three."

It's a potent answer to the faceless critics who relentlessly attack City's chief on the Internet.

And Lawrence snapped: "I have to remain focused. I can't afford to take any notice of people like them. If I listen to the things they say about me, my brain would explode!"

Lawrence also launched a stinging response to fans who insists Hammam picks the team at Cardiff.

"That's total rubbish. I've been in football long enough not to let that happen. Sam is enthusiastic, there are always plenty of suggestions from him.

"We haven't been producing the sort of results I wanted of late, but Hammam has been very supportive."

With leaders Wigan virtually champions, Lawrence's back will certainly be up against the wall if City don't eliminate Crewe, Oldham, Bristol City and QPR from an automatic promotion ticket.

Ruthless Hammam has already lashed out £15m on the Bluebirds since taking over 29 months ago.

He's also sacked four managers - Billy Ayre, Bobby Gould, Cork, and his number two Ian Atkins.

Bookmakers say there'll be a fifth dismissal if champagne corks don't pop this May.

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