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Mark Robins has gone from saving Sir Alex Ferguson’s job to rescuing Coventry

Mark Robins is best remembered as the player who saved Sir Alex Ferguson’s job. As a manager himself, he has gone one step further by virtually saving an entire club.

Without Robins’ goals, Manchester United would not have won the FA Cup in 1990 and it is widely believed that Ferguson would have been sacked as a result.

And without Robins’ calm, shrewd management, Coventry City might not have been able to stay afloat. Instead, after spending the better part of two decades plagued by financial problems and off-field uncertainty, Coventry are one win away from a return to the Premier League.

Beat Luton and the Sky Blues will be back in the top flight for the first time since 2001, a feat that could even eclipse their FA Cup victory in 1987.

Before Robins began his second stint with the club in March 2017, they had declined dramatically under owners SISU Capital. Robins picked them up in League One and promptly led them to victory over Oxford in the Checkatrade Trophy final, even though he couldn’t save them from relegation.

The impressive Mark Robins has sent Coventry to the brink of the Premier League

Robins is best remembered for scoring the goal that saved Sir Alex Ferguson from the bag

Robins is best remembered for scoring the goal that saved Sir Alex Ferguson from the bag

Another visit to Wembley the following season brought the same result, as Exeter were beaten in the play-off final and Coventry were straight back into League One.

The journey since then has not been easier. After seven games this season, Coventry were bottom of the Championship by three points, seven adrift of safety, having started the campaign under a transfer embargo.

They had to play seven of their first nine games away from home as rugby at the Commonwealth Games had rendered their pitch useless.

In October, they faced homelessness for a third time when their landlord, the Wasps rugby club, took over the board. Somehow the Sky Blues kept going, dragging their way up the table and are now just steps away from the world’s most famous league.

The club’s existence has been questioned on more than one occasion and they have had to play home games in Northampton and Birmingham due to disputes with the owners of their stadium, the CBS Arena. Robins still managed to lead the team to the 2020 League One title while at St Andrew’s.

It’s hard enough for a brilliantly managed club to rise from League Two to the Premier League, but Coventry are just a step away from that, despite being a basket case off the pitch.

Despite being a basketball box off the court, the club has continued its remarkable rise

Despite being a basketball box off the court, the club has continued its remarkable rise

Beat Luton and the Sky Blues are back in the top flight for the first time since 2001

Beat Luton and the Sky Blues are back in the top flight for the first time since 2001

Now the clouds have lifted and new owner Doug King signs a deal to keep the club at CBS Arena for five years.

King will become the sole owner in January after buying out the remaining shares of SISU. SISU’s ownership had unfolded against a background of decline, anger and protest. The relief among the fans was overwhelming.

Just as he did for the play-off semi-final victory against Middlesbrough, Robins tried to put the spotlight on Luton, who finished 10 points above his side during the regular season.

“We definitely didn’t expect to get there,” said Robins. “The change of ownership has helped to change the focus. The five-year plan we talked about has been accelerated by five years, so we’re ahead of the competition.

“We’ve achieved incredible things in the past six years, but we haven’t achieved anything tangible yet and we need to get this done. To be in a position to be able to try that is incredible in itself. We’re going to enjoy it.

Owner Doug King signed a deal to ensure the club will stay at the CBS Arena for five years

Owner Doug King signed a deal to ensure the club will stay at the CBS Arena for five years

Robins, fresh off a new four-year contract, is equipped to tackle any task that comes his way

Robins, fresh off a new four-year contract, is equipped to tackle any task that comes his way

‘We are under no illusions. They are the favorites and are expected to rise. They’ve been a year ahead of us in their development, so to be on the same level for a game that means so much to everyone is phenomenal.”

If they fall short, Robins – who signed a new four-year contract earlier this month – faces another hugely daunting task. While this is a durable team of solid pros, they probably wouldn’t have gotten this far without the stardust of Viktor Gyokeres and Gustavo Hamer.

Gyokeres has scored 22 goals and Hamer has contributed nine and ten assists. Both have just one year left on their contracts and have admirers in the Premier League and beyond. They will certainly part ways if Coventry remain in the second tier.

However, if anyone is up to such a challenge, it’s Robins, Coventry’s very own wonder man.