Coventry’s Robins plots Man Utd downfall in FA Cup semi

'We know they are clearly favourites to win this game, by a million miles, simple as that,' said the Coventry head coac

Mark Robins scored the goal that helped launch Manchester United’s era of dominance. Now he is plotting to deepen their misery in the FA Cup semifinal on Sunday as Coventry boss.

The 54-year-old scored against Nottingham Forest in the third round of the competition in 1990, a goal that turned out to be a turning point in the history of United and was widely credited with saving Alex Ferguson’s job.

Robins also scored the winner in the semifinal against Oldham and United went on to lift the cup, the first of a cascade of trophies under Ferguson, who oversaw their last Premier League title win in 2013.

The former forward, who came through the youth ranks at Old Trafford, played just 61 times for United but he has a special place in the hearts of the club’s fans.

Now he has another chance to influence the history of United by heaping the pressure on Erik ten Hag, who has had a dismal second season in charge.

Despite their woes, United will be firm favourites at Wembley to progress to a final against Manchester City or Chelsea, but the result is far from a foregone conclusion.

United are winless in their past four matches since their dramatic 4-3 quarter-final victory against Liverpool, with their hopes of Champions League football next season all but over.

The good news for Ten Hag’s men is that 1997 FA Cup winners Coventry have themselves stuttered in recent weeks, losing three of their past four games to slip off the pace in their bid to reach the Championship play-offs.

But Coventry will almost certainly get opportunities against a United team who concede a remarkable number of chances, with in-form striker Ellis Simms and Haji Wright posing a goal threat.

– ‘Top players’ –

Robins believes United’s problems are overblown and they remain “the biggest club in the world”.

“People, pundits, are talking in a derisory way about Manchester United and what they’re doing, how they’re performing,” he said.

“For people who are talking about Manchester United are this or that, or they concede lots of shots — you’re talking about a team that is full of talented players, top international players.

“We know they are clearly favourites to win this game, by a million miles, simple as that.”

Remarkable job

Coventry are bidding to become the first second-tier club to reach the final since Cardiff in 2008.

Robins has done a remarkable job since returning for a second stint in 2017, taking the club from the fourth tier to the brink of the Premier League last season — they lost to Luton on penalties in the Championship play-off final.

That success has come against the background of a tumultuous spell at the club, who were effectively homeless for many years, sharing facilities with Birmingham City as recently as 2021.

They have already beaten Premier League side Wolves on the road to Wembley and Ten Hag pointed out that they could easily be a top-flight side themselves.

“We know the manager, a former United player, striker, his long period there, he’s doing a fantastic job there,” he said. “So, we know a lot about them.

“Of course they are dangerous, they are in the semi-final. It’s logical.

“Last season, they were that far away (a small margin) from being promoted to the Premier League. So they do a fantastic job over there.

“We have seen the game against Wolves, in the quarter-final, the mentality in the team is fabulous, so we have to play to our best levels.”

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