Manchester United reunion ‘not about me’ – Mark Robins

By Sports Desk April 20, 2024

Mark Robins insists his FA Cup reunion with Manchester United should not distract from his Coventry side’s own dreams of Wembley glory.

Robins was a predecessor to the fabled ‘Class of 92’ at Old Trafford, but the glory years of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville may have looked a lot different were it not for his efforts.

His match-winning goal in the third-round match against Nottingham Forest in 1990 is widely credited with keeping Sir Alex Ferguson in a job, and he was a late substitute as the Red Devils beat Crystal Palace in the final to kick off a trophy-laden golden era.

On Sunday he finds himself back at the national stadium in an FA Cup semi-final, with the fate of another United manager – the under-pressure Erik ten Hag – potentially in his hands.

Yet the 54-year-old has been happy to leave the past in the past and has not been bending his squad’s ears with tales of times gone by.

“Absolutely not. They were all born after 1990, so none of them (know about it),” he said on the eve of the game.

“I don’t speak about things like that. It doesn’t matter what I did, I just talk about them. This is totally different and management is totally different to playing.

“It’s not about me, it’s all about the players and the preparation and how they can execute against a top, top team.

“These players have got an aspiration to play in the Premier League so for me, for them, it’s a chance to see how they perform, regardless of anything else around the game.”

Robins lays no claim to the disputed version of events that paints him as the reason for sparing the most dominant manager of his generation the sack, but can still be tempted into some mild nostalgia.

“In fairness I was substitute in a cup final 34 years ago, a brilliant occasion for us as Manchester United. It was fantastic,” he said.

“There were only two substitutes in those days so to get on the bench in the first place, when there was a lot of talented individuals who didn’t make it, puts it into perspective. I’d just broken into the squad and played a part in the run up to the final.

“It’s part of my experience, it’s part of my footballing background, but it was a long, long time ago.”

One of the Sky Blues players players hoping to make some cup memories of their own is 18-goal striker Ellis Simms. A childhood Manchester City fan, Simms scored twice in the dramatic quarter-final victory over Wolves including the decisive strike in the 10th minute of added time.

He confirmed Robins has kept his own playing days firmly in the background in the build-up to a match that represents a career high for many in the Coventry squad, but believes his efforts in the dugout should be receiving greater attention.

“It was obviously a few years ago, probably before my time, but I’ve heard bits of it,” Simms said of Robins’ FA Cup success.

“He’s very humble, but we know he was a top player back in the day. Now it’s about us as players but he’s going to do everything he can to help us.

“He should get more praise than he does. Getting us this far in the competition, the majority of people didn’t think we would get this far so it’s massive credit to him.”

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