Mark Robins vowed to lead Coventry back to the Premier League – Michael Doyle

By Sports Desk May 26, 2023

Mark Robins made a Premier League vow just hours after guiding Coventry out of League Two, former captain Michael Doyle has revealed.

The ex-Sky Blues midfielder skippered the club to their first promotion in 51 years in 2018 to kick-start their journey to the brink of a top-flight return.

Coventry beat Exeter 3-1 in the play-off final with Doyle lifting the trophy at Wembley and the Sky Blues are now dreaming of a repeat in Saturday’s Championship play-off final against Luton.

Robins, who signed a new four-year deal this month, took them out of the fourth tier at the first attempt after returning 14 months earlier for a second spell and, even then, outlined his vision to Doyle.

He told the PA news agency: “The night we got promoted from League Two we were chatting away at the bar, something came up and he said: ‘we’re going to take this club back to the Premier League where it belongs’.

“You don’t say things like that lightly and it’s not arrogance because he’s not an arrogant man. He wouldn’t say that openly to a lot of people.

“I’ve reminded him of that this week because we were a million miles away from it that night and now we’re on the verge of it. I hope he can do it.

“I do think eventually the club will get there, even if it’s not Saturday. The club is in good hands with four more years of him there. He is a god to the people of Coventry.

“Like any manager, pressure does come with the job and when he’s p****d off at you, you’re going to know about it. He’s not rolling into the training ground jovial.

“But at the same time, when you win a game, he’s not jumping to the ceiling like Larry the Lunatic.

“He’s always had a great calmness and it shows in his teams, the way they play. Look at that performance at Middlesbrough (the 1-0 play-off semi-final second-leg win) when no-one gave them a chance. That was a reflection of the coaching staff, Adi (Viveash, assistant) as well.”

Doyle made 373 appearances, scoring 26 times, for the Sky Blues and featured in a 2-2 draw against Luton in March 2018 when the teams were in League Two.

The 41-year-old first joined the club in 2003 from Celtic, just two years after their relegation from the Premier League, and saw the transition from Highfield Road to what was the Ricoh Arena in 2006.

Since then, the club have tumbled from the Championship and back again despite playing at Northampton in 2013-14 after a rent dispute and spending two seasons in Birmingham following a failure to agree a deal with then-stadium owners Wasps.

“Coventry were one of the longest-serving clubs in the top division and when they lost that status a lot of people around the city were devastated,” said former Republic of Ireland international Doyle. “There was a lot of negativity around the football club for long periods.

“In my first spell, we were always just a middle-of-the-table Championship club.

“The tough times of getting relegated has brought some success and some great days to the club. It’s just great to see the club now in the biggest game in football.

“I remember playing Forest Green at home and getting beaten and having to drag a fan off the pitch. We were losing 1-0 and he ran on with five minutes to go.

“The fans weren’t happy Coventry were playing Forest Green in League Two at home on a Tuesday night and losing 1-0.

“We had a lot of young players who were in shock and I ran over because he had the ball. I grabbed him and said: ‘what are you doing? Get off’. It was instinct, I ran over and confronted him.

“He was saying it was embarrassing and I said ‘listen, you’re not going to be here at the end of the season when we get promoted. Just get yourself in the stand’.

“Forest Green did the double on us, no disrespect to them, and it showed what hard times the club had fallen on. It was hard for the fanbase to fathom.

“These moments live with you a little because you end up getting success.”

Related items

  • Nottingham Forest confirm Jesse Lingard exit Nottingham Forest confirm Jesse Lingard exit

    Former England international Jesse Lingard will leave Nottingham Forest at the end of his contract.

    Lingard raised eyebrows when he joined Forest last season following their promotion to the Premier League, turning down West Ham to sign a lucrative one-year deal.

    But his time at the City Ground did not work out and he made just 20 appearances in all competitions, scoring two goals in the Carabao Cup.

    He featured just four times in 2023, but was a constant presence on the touchline as Forest beat the odds to retain their Premier League status.

    The 30-year-old will now look for a third club in three years, with reports linking him to a number of cash-rich leagues abroad.

    Andre Ayew, who signed a short-term contract in January, will also depart the City Ground this summer, along with Jack Colback, Cafu, Lyle Taylor and Jordan Smith.

    Right-back Serge Aurier, who was a key performer in Forest’s survival mission, has triggered the one-year option in his contract so will stay for the 2023/24 campaign.

    Loanees Dean Henderson, Keylor Navas and Renan Lodi come to the end of their deals, though Forest are understood to be interested in exploring permanent moves for Manchester United goalkeeper Henderson and Brazilian Lodi.

    Forest are not expected to have a repeat of last summer’s recruitment drive, which saw them sign 22 players by the end of the transfer window and go up to 30 by the end of January.

    But it is still likely to be busy as boss Steve Cooper targets a smaller number of quality additions and will be keen to move several players on as he trims a bloated squad.

  • UEFA confirms Szymon Marciniak will referee Champions League final UEFA confirms Szymon Marciniak will referee Champions League final

    UEFA has confirmed referee Szymon Marciniak will remain in charge of next week’s Champions League final after investigating his alleged links with a far-right movement.

    Marciniak was under review after speaking at a recent event organised by Polish far-right leader Slawomir Mentzen and his role as match official for Manchester City’s clash with Inter Milan in Istanbul on June 10 was in doubt.

    But UEFA is satisfied that Marciniak had been “gravely misled and completely unaware of the true nature and affiliations of the event in question” and will keep the 42-year-old Pole as referee.

    UEFA said: “Following Mr. Marciniak’s statement, UEFA acknowledges his profound apologies and clarification.

    “UEFA also reached out to “NEVERAGAIN,” an NGO affiliated with the FARE network, which raised the initial concerns about Mr. Marciniak’s involvement in the event.

    “They requested that Mr. Marciniak remain in his role as the referee for the upcoming UEFA Champions League final, firmly asserting that removing him would undermine the promotion of anti-discrimination.

    “Based on the information provided, UEFA confirms that Mr. Marciniak will fulfil his role as the referee for the 2023 UEFA Champions League final.”

    The organiser of the event at which Marciniak was a guest speaker, co-chairman of the Confederation party Mentzen, launched the political slogan ‘We stand against Jews, gays, abortion, taxation and the European Union’.

    Anti-racism group Never Again had urged UEFA to drop Marciniak after the event at the International Congress Centre in Katowice.

    Marciniak said in a statement: “I want to express my deepest apologies for my involvement and any distress or harm it may have caused.

    “Upon reflection and further investigation, it has become evident that I was gravely misled and completely unaware of the true nature and affiliations of the event in question.


    Marciniak, second right, refereed December’s World Cup final in Qatar (Nick Potts/PA)


    “I had no knowledge that it was associated (with) a Polish extreme-right movement. Had I been aware of this fact, I would have categorically declined the invitation.

    “It is important to understand that the values promoted by this movement are entirely contrary to my personal beliefs and the principles I strive to uphold in my life. I am deeply remorseful for any perception that my participation may have contradicted them.”

    Marciniak, 42, became the first Polish referee to take charge of a World Cup final in Qatar last December when Argentina beat France on penalties.

    He refereed the second leg of City’s semi-final win against Real Madrid and has taken charge of seven other Champions League fixtures.

  • Every trophy is special – Alastair Johnston sees no let-up at Celtic Every trophy is special – Alastair Johnston sees no let-up at Celtic

    Alistair Johnston discovered that every triumph was special at Celtic when seeing the joy on serial winner Callum McGregor’s face as the captain lifted the first two trophies of the season.

    Johnston is one match away from completing a clean sweep of major honours in Scotland five months after joining Celtic from Montreal.

    McGregor is going for his 20th winners’ medal on Saturday when Celtic face Inverness in the Scottish Cup final and Johnston expects it would mean just as much for his skipper to again meet the demands and expectations of fans.

    The 24-year-old said: “I know the extraordinary has become ordinary a little bit at this club with how many trophies they have lifted over the past decade. But still, for guys like myself, this would be my third-ever trophy in my entire career.

    “And I know Cal is probably on 40 or whatever it is but even for him, when you see how much excitement and joy it brings to him and guys like that – James Forrest, I mean he might be on 50 for all I know – you can really tell how much it means.

    “When you see that from the older guys who have been there and done that, especially as a new guy, you are like ‘okay, yeah, this is really big’. I am really excited and I would love to be a part of it.

    “When you see over the past decade, not only the trophies but the trebles that have been won, you almost take it for granted a little bit that ‘oh, Celtic won another one, it’s not that big of a deal’.

    “But now, being here and truly understanding and seeing the work that goes on behind the scenes and just the amount of effort that each guy puts in, it really rings true to me. It’s like ‘wow, each one of these is special’.

    “Just because some guys have won a lot of them, it doesn’t make that next one any less special.

    “I am just really excited to be in a position where I could potentially be walking out of here after six months with a treble. That is everything and more I could have asked for, but when I came in those were the expectations, that was what was put on me, it’s trophies or nothing.

    “I am just really happy we are delivering for our fans so far but it will be a big match this weekend, it won’t be easy.”

    Johnston’s appetite has been further whetted by seeing clips of previous Hampden success, including the penalty shoot-out that won Celtic the Scottish Cup against Hearts in 2020 to clinch the quadruple treble.

    The Canada international said: “It gave you that hunger as one of the new players: ‘I want to be part of that, I want to leave my mark on this club as well’.

    “As you get closer to these finals, some of those clips come up and it really puts things in perspective. You can just see the joy it brings to the fans and players. That’s something you want to be part of as a footballer.”

    At one stage Johnston feared he would not be part of it after suffering a leg injury in a tackle on Rangers full-back Borna Barisic in the semi-final, but he fought back to fitness to play in the final match of the league season against Aberdeen last weekend.

    “When I made the tackle, I thought it could be an issue,” he said. “Just because when I stood up and realised I couldn’t put any real weight on it.

    “But the scans were better than expected and I have done a lot with the medical team, they have been unbelievable. They have been in every day pretty much with me doing the long hours because I made it really clear I wanted to be back, not only for the cup final, but I wanted to be back to be in contention for selection for the Aberdeen match because I wanted to be out on that pitch.

    “You could probably see the joy it brought me being out there, I was loving life. Even though I got a bit tight, it was just precautionary to get me off.

    “Now all the focus is on the cup final. I feel good enough to be able to go. I don’t think anyone is perfect at this point of the season.

    “They are long years, a lot of matches, a lot of minutes on everyone’s bodies. But it’s a cup final, an opportunity to lift a trophy, and you can get through some pretty serious pain for that.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.