Mark Robins has reflected on Coventry City’s glorious season that has seen the club secure its first title for more than 50 years.
The Sky Blues promotion to the Championship marks a managerial career high for the former Manchester United striker, adding to his Wembley successes with promotion from League Two in 2018 and the EFL Trophy in 2017.
Speaking to CoventryLive, the 50-year-old revealed the growing confidence in the camp, the “unbelievable” fans and overwhelming unity that helped make it a truly memorable campaign of football that, he says, he simply “loved watching.”
For those of a nervous disposition, the award of Manager of the Month for February filled many a fan with fear.
Handed to Robins in the week following what turned out to be their final game of the season, a hard-fought 1-0 win at Ipswich Town, the sudden halt in the fixture schedule due to the pandemic meant he was spared any sleepless nights worrying about the dreaded curse that goes hand in hand with the award.
“I have just got my hands on the Manager of the Month trophy,” he said.
“It’s the first time I have touched it, so it’s turned out to be quite a lucky one!”
Robins said that the feeling after the victory at Portman Road was that they wouldn’t lose another game for the remainder of the season.
“We felt we were going to get promoted for a while,” he said, “and the way we were playing was outstanding.
“I have loved watching them this season.
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“The players have been fantastic and the staff have been brilliant and it’s been an unbelievable effort from everybody. The quality that they have shown has been outstanding.”
Asked to pick his most satisfying or complete performance, he said: “I honestly haven’t got one.
“I think the last game against Ipswich was a tough game but I thought we were outstanding on the back of the games we’d had against Rotherham, Portsmouth and the Sunderland game on TV.
“It was a tough run of fixtures and we came out of it absolutely flying. We were brilliant and that’s really the run that helped us get promoted.
“But we’d been outstanding all season. The lads have been a brilliant set. They have come in and got on with their work, bought into everything and tried their best. They have just been outstanding and all had a common goal.
“They came in with aspirations of promotion and achieved that.”
He added: “Marko Marosi missed out at the penultimate hurdle last year and he was desperate and hungry for more.
“We have had great players on loan and they have contributed unbelievably. We had Sam McCallum going in January and coming back and his attitude has been incredible. Walshy has been phenomenal all season.
“Kyle McFadzean has tied things together, Liam Kelly has played really well, Callum O’Hare and Matty Godden have been brilliant – Dominic Hyam, Michael Rose, Fanky Dabo, Brandon Mason when he’s played, Jamie Allen, everyone when they have played.
“I’ve missed out Amadou Bakayoko, who has also contributed brilliantly. I am sure I have missed people out but they have all contributed brilliantly and we’re just looking to improve again for the next step, because it is a big step.”
So will his abiding memory be the unity and everyone pulling together?
“That’s one of the stronger memories I have got but also I think the staff have been magnificent,” he said.
“ Adi Viveash has been magnificent, Paul Travis (head of performance analysis) as well, and Jason Farndon stepped up, as did Luke Tisdale, changing to different roles mid season.
“Trav did his cruciate knee ligament and I think he missed the Ipswich game because he was in hospital, so it hasn’t been straight forward.
“But the abiding memory will be the togetherness and will and desire to win, and the development of everyone as individuals.”
As for the fans, he added: “The support has been unbelievable again; so good!
“They bind everything together and it’s been an outstanding achievement for anybody who has got any affiliation to Coventry City.”
Like the players, Robins would have preferred to have played out the last ten games rather than the way it ended, and he has a degree of sympathy for those teams who lost out.
“You have got to feel for the teams for whom it’s affect negatively, but it’s clearly nobody’s fault,” he said.
“It’s been a different way of getting to the same goal.
“I feel for those who lost out because it’s unconventional and you can’t keep everyone happy with any of the scenarios. It was something I felt was really difficult for the EFL as well.
“At the end of the day they’re the administrators for the clubs and it’s been tough for everyone but thankfully we can move on and move forward and plan for a Championship season, whenever that starts.”