15th Nov, 2018

COMMENT: Mark Robins’ Sky Blues return gives fans a glimmer of hope for what lies ahead

Steve Carpenter 8th Mar, 2017 Updated: 10th Mar, 2017

FOOTBALL: A FOURTH manager in one season appropriately sums up the current mess Coventry City finds itself in but the departure of Russell Slade and the return of Mark Robins this week has lifted the mood slightly and given us fans a small glimmer of hope for the future.

I should start with the sacking of Slade, whose exit last Sunday did not come as a surprise to me. Despite guiding us to Wembley in the Checkatrade Trophy, a record of just one win in 13 league matches was simply not good enough.

He lost the support of the majority of fans and there are also rumours that he lost the dressing room too.

His mission when appointed just before Christmas was simple – to steer the Sky Blues away from relegation – but under his stewardship the situation has got far, far worse.

Those of us in the media who got to know Slade will no doubt have felt a hint of sadness on Sunday because he was a very likeable man who always made himself available for a chat.

But in my last interview with him I sensed that something was not right. There was an angry and disgruntled tone to his voice as he claimed he wasn’t given the right tools for the job and he passionately defended his managerial record.

It seemed as though he knew the writing was on the wall that day and Saturday’s goalless draw away at Shrewsbury proved to be the final straw.

Perhaps the idea was to bring Robins in over the summer but Mark Venus and Tim Fisher decided to act now and former Manchester United and Norwich City striker must now clean up the mess left behind by his predecessors.

Robins transformed the Sky Blues into genuine promotion contenders in a short space of time during his first spell at the club but after just five months in charge he jumped ship to Championship side Huddersfield Town.

To some that still hurts, but in football now there is no loyalty, especially when you consider recent events up the road at our M69 rivals Leicester.

In Tuesday’s press conference Robins spoke of a need to re-build the trust and relationship between the club and supporters, while also hinting that he needs the right tools for the job to succeed, tools that perhaps were not handed to Slade.

Robins knows the job ahead is much, much harder than it was four years ago. Before he was blessed with Leon Clarke and of course David McGoldrick, who both scored goals for fun at this level, with promotion looking achievable.

Now the Sky Blues are sitting 13 points adrift of safety, without a recognised goalscorer, morale among supporters is at its lowest and there remain question marks over the future of the club given the continued off-field drama, which Robins is fully aware of.

But the new manager might well pursuade those fans ready to throw in the towel to give him and the club one more crack at the whip.

He’ll now have just under two months to produce a miracle and avoid the drop, access the squad and begin the rebuilding process for next season.

At his press conference on Tuesday he also emphasised a need to bring everyone involved with the club back together – the owners, the fans and the players.

Actions speak louder than words but if Robins can emulate what he was beginning to achieve during his first spell with the club, then maybe there is some light at the end of this long, dark tunnel!

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