Mark Robins reassures Sky Blues fans following winless start to pre-season
Mark Robins was named League One Manager of the Year following Coventry City's promotion to the Championship. | Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Coventry City manager Mark Robins has reassured supporters following the Sky Blues’ slow start to preseason. City suffered back-to-back defeats against Rangers and Swindon Town, before drawing 1-1 with Wolves U23.

Robins has suggested that Coventry’s winless run is due to the amount of tactical work the Sky Blues have completed during preseason. In an interview with BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Robins admitted:

"It would be much, much easier if we wanted to get the ball out of our feet and hit it in behind and run.

Robins, named 2019/20 League One Manager of the Year, has received praise for his role in Coventry’s revival, leading the Sky Blues to two promotions in three seasons.

City gained acclaim for their style of play in League One, partly due to the implementation of Robins’ “box midfield” system.

Coventry stormed up the League One standings after switching to Robins’ 3-6-1 (5-4-1) formation; by the turn of the year, back-to-back hattricks from Matt Godden had helped to fire City into title contention.

City’s midfield, comprised of two defensive midfielders, auxiliary wingers and two number tens, played a vital role in Coventry’s title-winning campaign.

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The intricacies of Robins’ system have caused some teething problems throughout preseason. Although Ryan Giles and Gustavo Hamer have impressed in flashes since arriving in the West Midlands, German winger Marcel Hilssner and French fullback Julien Dacosta have been slower to adapt to life under Robins’ management.

Callum O’Hare, who returned to Coventry on a permanent basis following the expiration of his Aston Villa contract, has also impressed for the Sky Blues during preseason, excelling in the number ten role he occupied throughout last year.

Mark Robins' comments in full:

"There is a lot of tactical work going on and there have been changes to our personnel and with that come changes to how we want to play," said Robins.

"We have looked quite sharp at times, especially without the ball in terms of movement but we know where we need to get to.

"It has been difficult but we have tried to manage the pandemic the best we can too - but that has been the same for most teams.”

Robins admitted that getting used to paying behind closed doors isn’t easy.

"We're only just finding out what it is like to play at an empty stadium and it is strange. We always speak about the twelfth man and for us that is really important but these have been good to find out what it is like to play in the environment.

"But we have a few weeks still before we play out first league game and that first game in the Carabao Cup."

Sky Blues face MK Dons in Carabao Cup

The Sky Blues will travel to Stadium:MK and the WestonHomes Stadium before preseason concludes. City face Russell Martin’s MK Dons on Saturday, before taking part in their final warm-up game against Peterborough United next week.

Coventry have been drawn to face MK Dons in the first round of the Carabao Cup, with the tie set to be played in Milton Keynes on Saturday 5 September.

The Sky Blues have continued their pursuit of Arsenal defensive midfielder Ben Sheaf, although City could turn their attentions to Wolves youngster Owen Otasowie if a deal cannot be agreed.

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Reports in Bulgaria suggest that Coventry could make an approach for Republic of Ireland playmaker Graham Carey, who would provide competition to Callum O’Hare in the attacking midfield department.

Academy graduate Jordan Ponticelli has joined National League side Wrexham for an undisclosed fee. The 21-year-old forward said:

"It's now time for me to move on. It was never going to be easy leaving Coventry City. My hometown club and the place which gave me my first chance in football which I will be forever grateful for.”

Ponticelli made 33 appearances for the Sky Blues, scoring six goals, before joining Wrexham on loan during the 2019/20 season.