Mark Robins relishing play-off opportunity as Coventry ‘rise together’

Coventry boss Mark Robins believes the Sky Blues’ unity has been crucial to their Premier League ambitions.

They host Middlesbrough in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final on Sunday aiming to end a 22-year exile from the top flight.

It is the first time Coventry have made the Championship play-offs since relegation in 2001, having tumbled to League Two six years ago.

Robins has guided them back to within touching distance of the top flight – despite having to play two seasons in Birmingham due to a rent dispute between 2019 and 2021.

Coventry also played seven of their opening nine league games away from the CBS Arena this season after the Commonwealth Games’ Rugby Sevens wrecked the pitch, while they were given an eviction notice in December after Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group bought the ground.

But Robins feels the solidarity at the club means the problems have been overcome.

“Every club’s got its different challenges and this one is no different,” he said.

“We’ve managed to get through them together and there’s a mantra over the last five years, certainly three years, about rising together and it can’t be truer.

“Everyone is together and the fact I’ve had Dave Boddy (chief executive) working alongside me and above me and has been fundamental to what’s happened.

“The board have given me as much as they possibly could. They’ve given me space to work and I’ve got incredibly talented people working with me too. The players have been phenomenal and they’ve bought right into things.

“It’s just a whole team effort and that’s really the biggest takeaway for me, once everything settles down and the reflection can start.”

The former Manchester United and Leicester striker also moved to take the pressure off his players.

They resume hostilities with Boro having drawn 1-1 at the Riverside Stadium on the final day of the season and finished fifth.

“It’s a learning experience, we’ve got absolutely zero to lose and everything to gain and the experience that we can gain from that is invaluable anyway,” added Robins.

“We are looking at win-win. We’ve got a big opportunity to learn and we’ve got a big opportunity to prepare for a brilliant game on Sunday.”