Robins has gone from saving Alex Ferguson's job to rescuing Coventry

Miracle worker Mark Robins has gone from saving Sir Alex Ferguson’s job in 1990 to saving an entire CLUB at Coventry: Former Man United striker is on the brink of a third promotion in six seasons

  • The clouds have lifted at Coventry with boss Mark Robins impressing in charge 
  • His side, thanks to the stardust of his crop, are one win from the Premier League 
  • Calm and clever Robins is perfectly equipped to handle the top-flight’s hurdles

Mark Robins is best remembered as the player who saved Sir Alex Ferguson’s job. As a manager himself, he has gone one better by virtually saving an entire club.

Without Robins’ goals, Manchester United would not have won the FA Cup in 1990 and it is widely believed Ferguson would have been sacked as a consequence.

And without Robins’ brand of calm, clever management, perhaps Coventry City would not have been able to keep their heads above water. Instead, after spending the best part of two decades plagued by financial problems and off-field uncertainty, Coventry are one win away from returning to the Premier League.

Beat Luton and the Sky Blues will be back in the top flight for the first time since 2001, an achievement that could even eclipse their 1987 FA Cup win.

Before Robins began his second spell at the club in March 2017, they had declined dramatically under owners SISU Capital. Robins picked them up in League One and promptly led them to victory over Oxford in the Checkatrade Trophy final, even though he could not save them from relegation.

The impressive Mark Robins has steered Coventry to the brink of the Premier League

Robins is best remembered for scoring the goal that spared Sir Alex Ferguson from the sack

Another Wembley visit the following season produced the same outcome, as Exeter were beaten in the play-off final and Coventry were straight back in League One.

The journey since then has been no easier. After seven games this season, Coventry were bottom of the Championship with three points, seven adrift of safety, having started the campaign under a transfer embargo.

They had to play seven of their opening nine games away from home because rugby at the Commonwealth Games had left their pitch unusable.

In October, they faced the threat of being made homeless for a third time when their landlords, Wasps rugby club, entered administration. Somehow, the Sky Blues kept going, dragged themselves up the table and are now within touching distance of the world’s most famous league.

The club’s existence has been in doubt more than once and they have had to play home games at Northampton and Birmingham due to disputes with the owners of their stadium, the CBS Arena. Robins still managed to lead the team to the League One title in 2020 while at St Andrew’s.

It is difficult enough for a brilliantly-run club to rise from League Two to the Premier League, but Coventry are one step away from doing so despite having been a basket-case off the field.

Despite being a basket-case off the field, on it, the club have continued their remarkable rise

Defeat Luton and the Sky Blues will be back in the top-flight for the first time since 2001

Now the clouds have lifted, with new owner Doug King signing a deal to ensure the club stay at the CBS Arena for five years.

King become sole owner in January after buying out SISU’s remaining shares. SISU’s ownership had unfolded against a backdrop of decline, fury and protest. The relief among fans was overwhelming.

Just as he did for the play-off semi-final win against Middlesbrough, Robins sought to turn the spotlight on Luton, who finished 10 points above his side during the regular season.

‘We definitely weren’t expected to get there,’ said Robins. ‘The change of ownership has helped change the focus. The five-year plan we spoke about has been accelerated by five years, so we’re ahead of the curve.

‘We have achieved incredible things over the last six years, but we haven’t achieved anything tangible yet and we have got to go and finish this off. To be in a position to be able to try to do that is incredible in itself. We will go and enjoy it.

Owner Doug King signed a deal to ensure that the club will stay at the CBS Arena for five years

Robins, fresh from a new four-year contract, is equipped to handle any task thrown his way

‘We’re under no illusions. They are the favourites and will be expected to go up. They have been a year ahead of us in their development so for us to be on the same level, for a game that means so much to everyone, is phenomenal.’

If they fall short Robins – who signed a new four-year deal earlier this month – will face another hugely tricky task. Though this is a durable team of solid pros, they would probably not have made it this far without the stardust of Viktor Gyokeres and Gustavo Hamer.

Gyokeres has 22 goals and Hamer has contributed nine and 10 assists. Both have only a year left on their contracts and have admirers in the Premier League and beyond. They will surely wave goodbye if Coventry remain in the second tier.

If anyone can handle a challenge like that, though, it is Robins, Coventry’s own miracle man.

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