WEMBLEY COUNTDOWN - Connections between Coventry City and Manchester United - The Coventry Observer

WEMBLEY COUNTDOWN - Connections between Coventry City and Manchester United

Coventry Editorial 16th Apr, 2024 Updated: 17th Apr, 2024   0

COVENTRY City hope to write another chapter in the club’s history books when they play Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley this weekend.

Sky Blues boss Mark Robins began his playing career with United before later enjoying success as a manager with Coventry – taking the club from League Two to the brink of the Premier League in five seasons.

Ahead of the big match, let’s take a look at three people to have featured for both clubs either as a player or a manager.


Mark Robins

Current Coventry City boss Mark Robins began his professional career as a player at Manchester United.

Robins is credited with scoring the goal which kept Sir Alex Ferguson in his job at Old Trafford after netting the winner in an FA Cup third round tie against Nottingham Forest in 1989/90.

Many believe the legendary manager would have been sacked had United lost to Forest.

United would go on to win the competition that season, the first trophy of Ferguson’s 27-year reign at the helm, and the rest is history.

Robins spent four seasons with United, scoring 11 goals in 48 appearances, before going on to play for the likes of Norwich City, Leicester City and Rotherham United.

He replaced Andy Thorn as Coventry boss in September 2012 and began life with a 2-1 home defeat against Carlisle United.

However, after turning the club’s fortunes around, Robins departed for Huddersfield Town, then playing one league higher than Coventry in the Championship, in February 2013 after just five months in charge of the Sky Blues

After short spells with Huddersfield and Scunthorpe United, Robins returned to manage Coventry for a second time in March 2017, replacing Russell Slade, with the club rock bottom of the League One table.

Robins defied the odds to guide Coventry to a 2-1 win against Oxford United in the EFL Trophy at Wembley but was unable to prevent the club from avoiding relegation to League Two.

However, Robins ensured Coventry would only play one season in the fourth tier as the Sky Blues beat Exeter City 3-1 in the play-off final at Wembley to seal an immediate return to League One.

The club’s sixth-place finish in the league was their highest in 48 years while victory in the play-off final secured a first promotion for the club in 51 years.

An eight-place finish in League One followed, before Robins led the club to the League One title in 2019/20 despite Coventry playing their home games at St Andrews.

Robins helped establish Coventry as a Championship club again over the next couple of seasons before securing a play-off finish in 2022/23.

Coventry again defied the odds to beat much-fancied Middlesbrough over two legs in the semi-finals to leave the club one win away from a dream return to the Premier League.

The Sky Blues suffered a cruel penalty shootout defeat to Luton Town in the play-off final at Wembley but the occasion showed just how far Robins has taken the club in such a short space of time.

And Robins has now guided the club to a first FA Cup semi-final in 37 years with club also firmly in the race for a second successive top-six finish.


Dion Dublin

Coventry City favourite Dion Dublin enjoyed a fruitful four-year spell with the Sky Blues.

That came after Sir Alex Ferguson paid £1 million to sign him from then Second Division side Cambridge United earlier in his career.

Dublin suffered a broken leg just one month after joining United and with the Red Devils about to begin their dominance of the Premier League, the striker found first team opportunities limited.

He scored two goals in 12 appearances for the club before completing a then club-record £2 million move to Coventry in September 1994.

Dublin made an immediate impact, scoring 13 times in first season at Highfield Road, and hit double figures in each of his four full Premier League campaigns with the Sky Blues.

His most important goal for City came as Coventry made a great escape from relegation on the final day of the 1996/97 season.

Dublin opened the scoring in a 2-1 away win at Tottenham Hotspur as defeat for Sunderland and a draw for Middlesbrough meant Coventry survived by a single point having started the day second bottom.

The striker enjoyed his most prolific season in 1997/98 as he scored 18 goals in the Premier League to win the Golden Boot award along with Michael Owen and Chris Sutton.

His goals fired Coventry to an 11th place finish – their joint highest in the Premier League era – before he departed for Aston Villa in a £5.75 million move in November 1998 having scored 61 goals for the club in 145 appearances.


Gordon Strachan

Fiery Scot Gordon Strahcan ended his playing career with the Sky Blues before later managing the club for five seasons in the Premier League.

Strachan enjoyed a glittering playing career, winning two Scottish Premier Division titles, three Scottish Cup’s and the European Cup Winners’ Cup with Aberdeen under future United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

He completed a move to Man Utd in August 1984 and scored 19 goals in all competitions in his first season with the Red Devils as United won the FA Cup.

The midfielder was eventually joined by former boss Ferguson but failed to win any more silverware with United where he scored 33 goals in 160 appearances over a four-and-a-half year spell.

Strachan became Ron Atkinson’s assistant manager at Coventry in March 1995 while also remaining on the playing staff as he made 26 appearances for the Sky Blues without scoring.

He eventually replaced Atkinson as boss in November 1996 after the latter became City’s Director of Football.

Strachan guided Coventry to Premier League safety in his first season at the helm with a great escape on the final day of the campaign as City beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at White Hart Lane and other results went their way.

A run of three mid-table finishes followed before Strachan oversaw the club’s relegation from the top flight in 2000/01.

He lasted just five matches of the following campaign in the First Division before he was sacked.

Strachan achieved a win percentage of 32.56 during his 215-game stint in charge of the club, overseeing 70 wins, 56 draws and 89 defeats.


You can read about five memorable matches between Coventry and Manchester United HERE

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