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Inside Mark Robins and Adi Viveash’s “difficult” yet successful management marriage



This week marked Mark Robins’ seventh year as Coventry City’s manager. The occasion offered an opportunity to review the manager’s accomplishments despite significant hardship. Three trips to Wembley, three trophies, two promotions, and a play-off final following relegation to the fourth division of English football; however, a pandemic, yet another groundshare, and an unsuitable home pitch left the team with its hands bound last season.

In his more than 750 football management games, the 54-year-old has seen almost everything; between his two stints with the Sky Blues, he has only missed 400 games. He has played in 358 matches since making his comeback on March 6, 2017, with 144 victories, 101 draws, and 113 losses.

“It feels longer!” he joked, content to look back, but his attention was fixed on Saturday’s trip to Watford, where the players needed to get more points to have a chance at a second straight Championship play-off campaign.

“A lot has happened during that period, largely positive things as well. To be fair, the atmosphere has shifted significantly since you walked in. Aside from the difficult periods, I have also experienced some very wonderful ones, thanks in part to everyone’s support, including the owners, players, staff, and supporters.

“In essence, that has been the key to that time, and I am appreciative to everyone who has contributed.”

Adi Viveash, the first team coach and Robins’ trusted assistant, is undoubtedly the man who stands out above all the others during the course of the last seven years. As the manager once put it, Adi “paints the pictures” on the training ground.

During their time together at Walsall in the late 1990s, the former center-half and Robins were teammates rather than close friends. And their paths didn’t cross again until a few months after Robins returned to the team due to the illness of former assistant Steve Taylor. Viveash had left Chelsea and was eager for a new challenge following a spectacular ten years of leading the Premier League club’s Academy and development players.

The 54-year-old coach avoids the spotlight and doesn’t often do interviews. He actually conveys the clear idea that he despises the media. From an external perspective, however, most people are aware of the enormous impact and influence this gifted coach has had, having supported Robins over the previous six and a half years.

When asked how much of a role his right-hand man had played during that period and if he now saw Mark Robins, manager of Coventry City, as more of a partner or double act, he replied, “I hope so.” It’s not just about one person, so I hope that’s the case. It’s about the group, not simply about me.

By no means do we get everything right, but we continually aim to improve, and I believe that our attributes make us get along rather well.

Something like to marriage, maybe?

Without a doubt, he can be challenging, Adi,” he remarked.

So, the answer is “yes”!

“He can have a challenging nature, but I don’t want a ‘yes’ man, and he’s not that kind of guy,” he said. Conversely, though. He questions, checks, and expresses his own opinions. And sometimes, he has quite strong opinions.

Mark Robins, manager of Coventry City, and Adi Viveash, his assistant
Mark Robins, the manager of Coventry City, and Adi Viveash, his assistant, don’t always agree.
It’s not always the case that I agree with it. He also gets upset occasionally when I disagree with him, but in the end he understands that I’m the manager and I make the choices. Regarding the football aspect of things, I make all of the decisions here. The owner clearly directs me, and I have to make sure we work as hard as we can to fulfill his desires, and that’s where we are at the moment.

The dynamic pair may still have more to accomplish, but they have accomplished a lot in a short amount of time.

Ever the realist, Robins added, “We both want to work in the Premier League before everything ends, and at some point it will.”

And you don’t take anything for granted, particularly in the harsh atmosphere of the Championship. Adi has been with me for six and a half years, Aled Williams has been here for a while, and Dennis Lawrence has been with me for three years. The truth is that I have fantastic people around me. August will bring it to seven.

“genuinely, I called Steve Taylor the other day since we drove by the training ground gates on Wednesday, seven years ago. He’s genuinely alright. Adi is undoubtedly one of the many good things that have transpired, and he seems to be in good spirits.

A newcomer Steve Taylor, the first team coach, and Mark Robins
Did Mark Robins have a long-term plan when he first arrived? A young Mark Robins and first team coach Steve Taylor during their managerial collaboration back in 2012. Robins is currently the longest serving manager in the EFL and third longest serving in all top four divisions behind Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.

He answered, “I think that’s the only way you can handle.” “From my management experience, which I recently discovered totals 751 games, I have managed numerous clubs for more than 17 years, and each one is unique. But in order to get everything in order, you have to approach the situation with the mindset that you will be staying for a very long period.

“Even if it doesn’t last long, you aim to leave each club with something that improves and leaves it in a better situation than when you found it. Time is something you don’t always have since you still need to see results along the way, but the only method I know of to accomplish this is to put things in place and improve things fundamentally.

“At clubs, I have dealt with a variety of situations, including changing stadiums and administrations. And you learn various lessons from those encounters, which ought to improve you over time. And ideally that has shown to be the case, allowing us to proceed.

Middlesbrough is where Coventry City manager Mark Robins and deputy Adi Viveash lead the way.
Mark Robins, the manager of Coventry City, and his assistant Adi Viveash provide guidance from the sidelines.
“I think everyone thinks they can do it better than you if they were in it,” he continued. “It’s a really difficult job.” Until you try it, you never know if you can succeed. It was first a baptism, and it continues to be a daily challenge. However, you either accept the challenge or you don’t, and that’s when you determine your suitability for it—not everyone is.”

“There’s too many things but, honestly, the biggest thing for me is the link between the supporters, the players, and the club because when I came in, you cannot underestimate how dead it was,” he replied when asked what he believes to be his greatest accomplishment or item of which he is most proud.

“Even when I visited for the first time in 2012, it was nothing like this.” When I returned there five years later, it had completely altered. Everyone felt as though the situation there was not only relegation but also a degradation in any case. With everyone else’s assistance—there are too many to mention since there have been so many of them—I was able to step in and assist in the manner that I have.

But it’s amazing that we were able to put mechanisms in place to assist us in reaching this stage. In response to your inquiry, yes, it was a terrible day when pigs were thrown onto the Charlton Athletic field, but I was aware of this when I arrived. The day ended in a 1-1 stalemate and our relegation to League Two.

Supporters of Coventry City and Charlton Athletic
To protest against their respective owners, Charlton Athletic and Coventry City supporters threw plastic pigs onto the field, delaying the game.
In addition to dealing with a season without any supporters, we also had the Checkatrade, promotion at the conclusion of the following season, and a fantastic campaign leading into the Covid season. And then, since it would have been tragic had we lost, continuing in the Championship even though you wanted the fans to be there. It was always likely until we defeated Rotherham and went on a three-game winning streak that got us safely into the end.

It is impossible to undervalue the support we had, still have, and will continue to have—the supporters’ return and their continued attendance at the stadium—as well as our seven straight victories at home that season. With Doug King taking over as our new owner, things are starting to take shape. During my time here, I have witnessed all of those great improvements, and I am incredibly proud of myself every day that I manage this team.

Is he planning to spend the next seven years doing this?

He stated, “That’s the only way you can approach the job, without a doubt, but I don’t look at an endpoint.” You look at attempting to reach the objectives that you have set and that others have set, so eventually we have to strive to bring the team back into the Premier League.

That’s the gist of it, and we need to make sure it’s carried out in a sustainable manner. We are unable to follow in the footsteps of other clubs, particularly those that receive parachute payments. We need to approach it differently, focusing on staff and player development as we go. It presents a challenge, but an excellent one.



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