Following the club parting company with Russell Slade on Sunday afternoon, Coventry City moved swiftly to appoint Mark Robins as his successor on Monday morning. Having previously spent five months at the Ricoh Arena before leaving to take the reigns at Championship side Huddersfield Town, his return is dividing supporters given the manner in which he left.
During his first stint with the Sky Blues, he improved the fortunes on the pitch, taking Coventry from relegation candidates to play-off hopefuls in just five months. However, he cited a lack of assurances from owners SISU as a reason why he made the “considered decision” to move to the John Smith’s Stadium in February 2013.
Why would he want to return to Coventry?
With the off-field situation becoming more problematic and the future of Coventry City hanging in the balance, some will question why Robins would want to come back. I can imagine that he sees it as an opportunity to salvage a reputation that has been damaged over the last few years.
He steered Huddersfield clear of relegation to League One in 2013, but he mutually agreed to part company with the club following the first game of the 2014/15 campaign, a 4-0 home defeat to Bournemouth. A spell lasting just over a year at Scunthorpe United soon followed, but he was relieved of his duties in January 2016 with The Iron just six points above the drop zone in League One.
After spending almost 14 months away from management, Robins is now back in the game and he will take charge of City’s game versus Bradford City on Saturday.
Is he a good appointment?
Statistics from his time here previously would say yes. His win percentage of over 50% is the best in the club’s history, but things have changed drastically over the last four years. In the 2012/13 campaign our budget was reported to be over £4million, compared to the approximate figure of £1.8million quoted this season. That, of course, will be reduced again if the Sky Blues succumb to an inevitable relegation which will leave them in League Two.
However, I do trust him to get the best out of a meagre budget. His eye for a player seemed to be one of his main features before, and he certainly added some quality to Scunthorpe’s ranks too. Tony Mowbray’s recruitment last summer was dreadful, and Robins will be praying he doesn’t make the same mistakes. I would say the summer of 2017 could prove pivotal in shaping which direction this club ends up going.
One thing I fondly remember is the brand of football Robins implemented first time around, and I am looking forward to seeing if he takes a similar approach. We played some brilliant stuff under him and results were coming too. He now has a ‘free hit’ for the final 11 games of this season – we all know that relegation is heavily probable. Using this time to assess the squad and sum up the situation will allow him to put the foundations in place heading into the summer. A major rebuilding phase lies ahead.
Hopefully he sticks around this time.
I can recall the moment I found out that Robins had left City. At first I didn’t believe it, especially as he ensured supporters that he had “sky blue blood” just days before, but then I heard it on the radio. Anger and frustration were the first emotions that hit me, but then I calmed down and assessed the situation. I had never been so disappointed to see a manager go, but I couldn’t really blame him. The simple fact that I was sulking for such a period signalled one thing – he did a good job.
Fingers crossed that his stay can be longer now that he is back, because that would mean we are getting results on the pitch. The 47-year-old told the Coventry Observer that he wants to “try arrest the the things that are happening now and build for the future.” Whether or not he will be successful remains to be seen, but he deserves the backing of our fanbase. I have no doubts that things will progress more smoothly under his stewardship rather than Slade’s.
If Robins somehow keeps us in this division, he will forever go down in Coventry City folklore. However, we can only judge him fully after he has acquired his own players. That doesn’t mean I don’t expect immediate changes, I think we will see a difference in how we set up and approach games quickly, with more creativity and guile.
Given our situation, it looks to be a very wise appointment. If he can lead us to glory at Wembley and give us the best chance of getting promoted next season, I’m sure everybody will commend his work. It has been quite a season – we have had almost as many managers as league wins, but it’s time for a new era.