RETURNING Coventry City manager Mark Robins says he has seen some ‘good players’ in his first week in charge who will need to give ‘110 per cent’ in a fight to avoid relegation.
His first game at the Sky Blues since 2013 is at home tomorrow against promotion-chasing Bradford City, who are fifth in the league, and have only lost two is the last 16 League games, with just five defeats all season.
Coventry City are bottom of League One 13 points adrift of safety having won only five games all season. Robins estimates they may need eight wins from 11 to survive the drop, and has said whatever happens it’s about taking one game at a time, and he is hoping for a “long association” with the club this time round.
Asked by the Coventry Observer if he had observed players this week at the club’s Ryton training ground who had the belief they could avoid relegation, he said: “That’s too simple a question to ask and it’s too difficult to answer.
“I don’t expect them to not have the fight to try and get themselves out of the situation. Everybody knows the difficulty of it.
“It’s about mentality. If you can believe you can get a result that’s the first thing. The first thing is we need to get a result.
“We have to fight for 95 minutes and give everything we’ve got.
“Training’s been okay. We’ve worked hard. We need to see what the players are capable of doing.
“We need in the short term to get an understanding to the players. I’ve got to get some goals in the team and not be silly and open and gung-ho.
“Whoever comes in, and whoever’s on the bench, they need to watch carefully, learn and understand.
“The first thing we want is 110 per cent. I’m working all hours as everybody is in the building.
“There is no downtime for staff. I’ve noticed it. People are working their socks off trying to turn the club around.”
In assessing the players and first impressions, he said: “We’ve got some good players. There are good technical players.
“There’s decent experience around them now from the January transfer window – Nathan Clarke and one or two others.
“There is still a young squad, they’re hungry and want to do well.
“As you would expect from Tony’s (Mowbray’s) recruitment to Russell Slade’s there’s a difference, but you can see what they were both trying to achieve.
“You can see the talent and players willing to work hard. It’s about harnessing that as quickly as possible. As long as they’re an honest bunch and willing to give 100 per cent, that’s all you can ask for.”
Robins continued to articulate the themes he gave in his first exclusive interview on his return to the club in Monday’s Coventry Observer, and in Tuesday’s press conference.
Those themes are of rebuilding the club, developing better player recruitment structures, the importance of the ‘lifeblood’ youth academy’s future, and “pulling everybody together”, including the club, players, fans and other parties – although he has said political issues were not for him, such as stadium issues and the lack of revenues from owning a stadium.
He added today: “We’ve got to bring in the right players but do it in a way that’s sustainable.
“There is always money coming in from supporters.
“We have to make sure we spend every penny wisely and it has maximum benefit for us.
“The right people have to be put in place. I’m under time pressures.”
Of the trip to Wembley for the Checkatrade Trophy final on April 2, and news that 32,000 tickets have already been sold to Sky Blues fans from an allocation of nearly 40,000 ahead of next week’s general sale, he said: “If anybody doubts how big the club can be, you only have to look at ticket sales for the final.
“For that, everybody is pulling together. Let’s not make that just a one-off. We need financial help alongside maybe the investment.”
Of the academy, where the future is up in the air after Coventry City Council gave planning permission for rugby club Wasps to build a new training facility for their rugby players at the Alan Higgs Centre purpose-built Sky Blues academy premises, he said: “Whatever happens, the lifeblood of a football club along with the supporters is an academy. It needs to be in as healthy a state as we can possibly have it.
“The football club has probably relied too much on that at this stage. You can’t put youngsters in all of the time.”