EFL

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

  • Duggan to leave Everton after second spell at club Duggan to leave Everton after second spell at club

    Everton have announced that Toni Duggan will leave the club when her contract expires at the end of this month.

    The forward is departing after her second spell at the club, having started her career at Everton in 2007-08 before rejoining in July 2021.

    She appeared in all but one of Everton's matches during her return season but missed the entirety of the second after going on maternity leave, but returned to action last October.

    The 32-year-old initially broke into the first team at 16 years old and scored an extra-time winner against Watford to send Everton into the Premier League Cup final.

    In her first spell, she was named FA Women’s Young Player of the Year in 2009 and went on to lift the FA Women's Cup the following year.

    Duggan played 92 games for the Toffees over her two spells, scoring 29 goals.

    Alan McTavish, Everton Women's Chief Executive Officer, said: "Everyone at Everton thanks Toni for her service and commitment to the club.

    "From breaking into the senior team as a 16-year-old to winning the FA Cup, she can be very proud of her contribution to Everton.

    "We wish Toni all the best for the future."

    Duggan has also played for Manchester City, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid while earning 79 England caps to date.

  • Charlotte FC vs Orlando City: Smith hoping for Orso insight against struggling former club Charlotte FC vs Orlando City: Smith hoping for Orso insight against struggling former club

    Dean Smith will hope to utilise the experience of former Orlando City midfielder Junior Orso when his new team Charlotte FC host them in MLS on Thursday.

    Charlotte head coach Smith says the influence of Orso, who spent four seasons with Orlando, could benefit the home side at Bank of America Stadium.

    "It helps," Smith said of Orso's knowledge. "Little insights of information that can help.

    "The fact that Junior will know a lot about them will certainly help us as well."

    The Crown are fifth in the Eastern Conference standings, too, owing to their remarkable defence that has helped them to ninth in the Supporter's Shield rankings.

    "Defense wins championships,” said Brandt Bronico, reflecting on the team's success this season. "If you can get the defense right, you can [then] start creating and having fun on the offensive end.

    "The collective defense-first mindset is probably the most important thing in the locker room."

    Orlando are struggling at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table, sitting just one point ahead of New England Revolution, who still have a game in hand.

    Oscar Pareja's side were beaten 3-1 by Los Angeles FC last time out, extending their winless streak to four games.

    The Orlando head coach acknowledged improvements are needed.

    "We need to have a deeper analysis about what's happening on the pitch," Pareja said.

    "But once again, it's not enough at this point. We need to win games and that's not happening."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Charlotte FC – Kristijan Kahlina

    Charlotte have kept clean sheets in five straight home matches for the first time in club history, thanks to the efforts of goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina.

    With a shutout against Orlando, Charlotte would become the sixth team in MLS history to keep six straight home clean sheets within a single season, equaling the second-longest run in league history.

    Orlando City – Nicolas Lodeiro

    Nicolas Lodeiro completed 107 of 115 pass attempts on Saturday against LAFC, a new career high in his 208th regular-season match after never completing more than 88 passes in a match before.

    It was the most passes ever completed by an Orlando player in an MLS match, though Lodeiro may not have as much control for this meeting.

    MATCH PREDICTION – CHARLOTTE FC WIN

    The pre-match predictions fall in the favour of the home side as Charlotte appear the most likely victors on Thursday.

    Charlotte FC went unbeaten in all three meetings with Orlando in all competitions last season (W2 D1), after Orlando won both matches in 2022.

    Expect another nervy encounter, however, as all five matches between this pair have been decided by one goal or drawn.

    Yet the hosts will be confident as Charlotte have lost only one of their last 19 regular-season home matches, dating back to the beginning of June 2023 (W9 D9).

    Only last season's MLS Cup finalists Los Angeles FC (40) and Columbus Crew (38) have earned more points at home than Charlotte (36) over that span, and Orlando are struggling heading into this one.

    The visitors have lost eight matches in the 2024 season, one more than they had all of last year.

    Yet not all hope is lost given the Lions have lost only one of their last six away from home (W3 D2).

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Charlotte FC – 42.8%

    Orlando City – 30.5%

    Draw – 26.7%

  • Argentina v Canada: Messi braced for tough Copa America title defence despite favourites tag Argentina v Canada: Messi braced for tough Copa America title defence despite favourites tag

    Argentina are preparing to defend their Copa America title, but Lionel Messi is staying realistic ahead of their opening match against Canada on Thursday.

    The Albiceleste beat Brazil 1-0 in the final in 2021 to win the title for the first time since 1993 before going on to lift the World Cup just over a year later.

    Since their victory over France in December 2022, Argentina have remained in strong form, losing just one of their 14 matches in all competitions and winning the other 13.

    Messi, who will become the Copa America's all-time record appearance-maker when he next features in the tournament, says he expects to face a tough challenge to retain the trophy.

    "Argentina are always favourites," Messi said. "I think it is going to be a very eventful tournament because national teams are becoming better and better.

    "Today we are the best because we won the World Cup, but the Copa America is going to be difficult.

    "It will be even, and our team is aware that we are going to have to continue doing the same and more to win again.

    "We are going to try to win the Copa America again but let's remember that not everything is about winning."

    Meanwhile, Canada are making their first appearance at the Copa America after qualifying through the playoffs with a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago.

    They failed to get out of the group stage on their return to the world stage in Qatar two years ago, but now under new coach Jesse Marsch they are looking to make an impression before co-hosting the World Cup in 2026.

    Canada had an encouraging 0-0 draw against France in their last warm-up match and will hope a squad containing Alphonso Davies, Stephen Eustaquio and Jonathan David can be competitive in a Group A that also contains Chile and Peru.

    Tests do not come much tougher than the reigning champions, but Marsch is confident they have a plan to deal with the danger Argentina, and Messi, pose.

    "We're excited for this tournament, we know it's a big challenge," said Marsch. "It won't be a shock to us when we encounter the quality and the level of play with Argentina.

    "We'll be preparing heavily for everything that Argentina will do and prepare for what they present. Certainly, Messi is still a massive part of their team and who they are."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Argentina – Lionel Messi

    Who else?

    His next appearance in the Copa America will be his 35th, overtaking Chile great Sergio Livingstone, and he has scored 13 goals for Argentina in the competition along the way.

    He has also provided nine Copa assists and has had more shots than any other player at the tournament since the start of the 2011 edition (102).

    Canada – Cyle Larin

    Larin is Canada's all-time top scorer, netting 29 times for his country in 68 appearances including a key strike in the win over Trinidad and Tobago.

    Despite struggling for goals in LaLiga with Real Mallorca in 2023-24, netting just seven times in all competitions, Larin will be looking to further improve his international record at the tournament, with Lille's David (26) fast closing in on his tally.

    MATCH PREDICTION: ARGENTINA WIN

    Unsurprisingly, Argentina are the overwhelming favourites to start their title defence with a win and they go in with a 74.3% chance of finishing the game with three points.

    Canada, meanwhile, are given just an 11% chance of claiming an upset in their Copa America debut, with the draw slightly more likely at 14.7%.

    The Albiceleste have only lost once since the start of 2023, and in that run of 14 matches, they have conceded just four goals and impressively kept 11 clean sheets.

    Canada failed to score in either of their warm-up friendlies against the Netherlands (4-0) and France (0-0) in the build-up to the tournament, last hitting the back of the net in March.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Argentina – 74.3%

    Draw – 14.7%

    Canada – 11%

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.