Here we are again, at the dawning of yet another era.
Phil Parkinson becomes the latest manager tasked with cracking the Sunderland conundrum. The former Bolton Wanderers boss has reeled out all the normal platitudes of how big the club is, the incredible facilities it has and the backing of a passionate fanbase but he, along with the Sunderland board, will know that anything less than promotion and it’ll yet another failed experiment.
It all begins at high-flying Wycombe Wanderers managed by a man heavily-linked with the Sunderland job, yet decided to stay put. Good luck, Phil.
Wycombe have had a great start to the season and they are probably the surprise package. They deserve to be respected and I think teams have maybe underestimated them at times.
It is at a stage of the season now where they deserve to be respected. When I first met the Sunderland board then in your mind you have to prepare for it. When you are an interview process you watch as many games and get to know the squad as much as you can because the minute you get employed you have to get into action very quickly.
The games are coming around very quickly so I have watched a lot of the previous games, a lot of the individual players, obviously prepare for the opposition and I am looking forward to preparing a Sunderland team this weekend that is going to go down there and get the three points.
Parkinson did not give much away in terms of team selection but one of the main conundrums the new boss needs to solve pretty quickly is the striker situation. His previous sides have employed a robust striker which could be music to the ears of Charlie Wyke, who thrived on a direct style of play while at Bradford City.
However, should Parkinson opt for Will Grigg ahead of Wyke, it will require a change of system to ensure Sunderland play to the strengths of the big money signing. For the first time since the opening day of the season, Sunderland will be able to call upon Duncan Watmore who bagged a late equaliser at Wycombe back in March.
View From The Opposition
It seems only fitting that Parkinson’s first game in charge should be against Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe. The Chairboys boss was heavily linked with Sunderland hot seat until being overlooked in favour of Parkinson. The Buckinghamshire side have started the season like a house on fire and are currently in second place sitting four points behind leader Ipswich Town.
They strong start to the season has been built on home form. Ainsworth’s men have won five of their seven games at Adams Park and will be confident of taking advantage of a Sunderland side that may be getting used to Parkinson’s methods.
In the build-up to the game, Ainsworth told the Bucks Free Press that he was “flattered” at being linked with both the vacant Sunderland and Millwall managerial roles but insisted that he was concentrated on Wycombe.
I personally don’t want to be the only one who is flattered because it is a testament to the players, my staff, the fans and the support I have had from inside and outside the club. It is great. We wanted to put Wycombe Wanderers back on the map and I think we have done that.
It has never been so crazy with the press and the phone ringing and talking about Wycombe doing so well and being linked here, there and everywhere.
It is fantastic but I have a really big job now on Saturday. It is a huge game against Sunderland and I want to make sure that everyone is focused on that rather than what could be happening outside because at the moment I am sat here as Wycombe Wanderers manager and I am looking forward to Saturday.
Venue: Adams Park, High Wycombe
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Current position: 2nd
Last season position: 17th (League One)
Last 5 results:
(LT) Grimsby Town (H) 3-2
(L1) MK Dons (H) 2-1
(LC) Sheffield United (A) 1-0
(L1) Bolton Wanderers (A) 1-1
(L1) Rotherham United (H) 1-1
(LT) Stevenage (H) 0-1
(L1) Peterborough United (H) 3-3
(L1) Rochdale (A) 3-0
(L1) Portsmouth (H) 1-0
(L1) Accrington Stanley (H) 1-1
The Lads at Adams Park
09 Mar 2019 (L1) Wycombe Wanderers 1-1 Sunderland (Watmore)
Top goalscorers (in all competitions)
5 - Adebayo Akinfenwa
4 - Joe Jacobson
4 - Fred Onyedinma
2 - Scott Kashket
1 - Nick Freeman
Last Time We Met
The fume levels were off the chart on Sunderland’s only ever previous visit to Adams Park. When a poor man’s Craig Mackail-Smith, Alex Samuel, put the hosts ahead it looked like a frustrating afternoon for the Wearsiders. However, a 94th minute Duncan Watmore equaliser sent the away hordes smashing through seats.
Little did everyone know that was just the start of the fun and games. A mass brawl on the sideline saw George Honeyman square up to Beast Mode Akinfenwa and was promptly sent off, along with Wycombe’s Nathan Tyson. And just for good measure, Marcus Bean hacked down Watmore to end his the winger’s season and get himself sent off.
It’s okay though because Bean’s a nice guy and goes on Football Weekly and is training to be a Director of Football. Not that type of player.