Mark Robins wants out. And is soon to get his way. There is an urge to suppress my crossness, because I know I’ll be over this as quickly as I was with Jay Tabb leaving, or even Robbie Keane (oh Robbie). But on the other hand, anger can be good. So here are my immediate, and probably irrational, emotions.
I am more than happy as manager of Coventry City. [Maybe] If Manchester United came calling… but they have a manager.
I have been here for five months, so we’re getting dangerously close to the 11th-month average for Coventry managers.
But, in all seriousness, I had a meeting with some of the board on Wednesday and spoke to the owner about other things planning for the future, so that should tell you a story.
It’s hard to believe this was Mark Robins 5 days ago. Our manager of less than 5 months spoke these words, as he batted away yet another question about his future at the club.
Forgive me, but the last time I checked Huddersfield Town weren’t Manchester United. And it’s that decision which wrangles most.
Yeah, I’m disgusted that he’s only been here 5 minutes and has already fucked off. As City fans, we’ve no concept of the transient nature of successful managers being poached. It’s not something we’ve been even vaguely exposed to. So while Robins’ increasing stock in the Football League has been hard to ignore, I certainly had no foresight of him leaving so soon.
But to go like this, to bloody Huddersfield Town. It’s a mind-bending change of tack, considering the direction he was taking our own club. He spoke at the weekend about his desire to achieve something this season, and for us not to be “nearly-men”. He even got me so geed up with his determination that I ranted during the latest Nii Lamptey Show about this new direction and drive, like some sort of uncontrollable idiot.
We all change our minds – it’s an understandable nuisance – but where I struggle to accept change is when an expectation has been set, only for it to be abruptly altered. We were led to believe he was happy, and was only going to leave if something brilliant came up. But the manner in which he has attempted to force through this move (clearing his desk before the approach had even been accepted) can only suggest that he either wasn’t happy here, or he genuinely sees Hudderfield as a brilliant opportunity, and far greater than what’s on offer at Coventry. As fans, both scenarios result in huge kicks in the gums.
Don’t get me wrong. I had nothing against Huddersfield before this. They’re a regular sort of club who’ve barely come into contact with us. But that in itself should tell you something. They’ve barely come into contact with us because they haven’t had a chance to. In the grand scheme of football, we’re still a bigger club than them, regardless of how we swapped leagues last year. Even if you’re looking at potential alone, I’m certain we should hold enough of a draw to fend off approaches from Huddersfield for our manager. No amount of discussion about their finances or trajectory is going to sway me on that one. It’s how I feel.
So why now? Why would he want to leave after only 5 months in a job he was doing so well in? Can it be solely down to money? We know Huddersfield have a bit to spend, so he’s clearly going to take home a chunk more. But let’s face it, if he can be persuaded by Huddersfield in these circumstances, when he’s only just started another job, it was only a matter of time before he had his head turned by somebody.
It’s really hard to hide my bitterness towards what is such an unfamiliar situation. We spent ages figuring out who our next manager should be; we even threw away 5 games of the season with dippy Richard Shaw in charge, just so we made sure we took the time to get the right man. Now we’re essentially being punished for getting that right. He was out of work at the time, we gave him a chance to prove what he can do, and 5 months later, this is how we’re repaid.
In the meantime, they’ve just sacked the manager who got them promoted. If that wasn’t bad enough, who can forget last season when Lee Clarke – a guy who’d went 43 games unbeaten and was pushing for automatics – was given the boot for what I can only assume was not going unbeaten long enough.
I would love to be able to dismiss the situation as “just football” and switch my focus to yet another candidate. But this just feels different. It feels wrong.
Over the last 20 years, we’ve made few correct decisions. In Mark Robins, while making his share of mistakes, there were plenty of signs to suggest that we had actually managed it this time.
But now we’ll never know. He’s thrown away all the good work he was doing, all the good will the fans had for him, and most importantly, the hope the people of Coventry had that things were finally starting to go our way.
You could have been someone, Mark. Now you’re on the naughty list with Craig Bellamy and Nicky Summerbee. I hope you’re pleased with yourself.
And you still look like a dinnerlady. There. I said it.