Q: Are you still patient with Phil Parkinson, or have you already made up your mind on him?
Jack Ford says...
For me, the early days of Parkinson’s tenure have been incredibly confusing.
When he was appointed I thought it thoroughly made sense - a manager with a CV full of EFL experience and success, numerous League One promotions, and a contact book that can make up for the shortcomings of our recruitment department.
Early games showed a lack of new manager “bounce”, but for me the signs of improvement were there. We seemed to be more structured, more direct and created more chances while being solid at the back. It just made sense.
Now however, I’m wondering if the players have bought into his reign at all.
Regardless of the competitions they were incurred in, seven defeats out of the last nine games is unacceptable at any level, and now questions have to be asked of the players and the manager.
We did have problems under Jack Ross. We were boring, predictable, lacked aggression and cynicism and couldn’t put teams away. I’ll admit I was glad when he moved on and thought with a little bit of extra work this squad could easily push for promotion.
I thought thrashing Tranmere was how this team should have been performing, but now I think it’s reasonable to ask whether we’re staring down the barrel of an absolute disaster of a season.
From the start, it seemed Parkinson’s appointment underwhelmed and even angered many of the fans, and the recent form has only made this more vociferous and widespread. I want to say we should reserve judgement until after the January window, but if things continue as they are then our season could be over before we even get the chance to sign a player.
By sacking Ross when they did, the leadership at the club made a statement that notions of long-term stability cannot make up for failing to achieve the sorely needed short-term goal of promotion out of this division.
They may be faced with difficult questions if this decline in results continues.
Mark Carrick says...
When Phil Parkinson was appointed I think it’s fair to say the appointment was underwhelming. However, not one for jumping in before anyone is given a chance, I was hoping those who played up his strengths would be proved right. The win against Tranmere offered hope, but that hope has been extinguished like a reservoir being emptied over a camp fire!
Six defeats in nine games. Games that have been played against the likes of Lincoln, Shrewsbury, Gillingham (twice), and Leicester’s kids. After Jack Ross had seen off Burnley and Sheffield United, Parkinson succumbed to Oxford with Will Grigg hitting an all-time low in missing a routine penalty.
Are those results down to the manager? Have the players simply downed tools, either in protest at Ross leaving or not grasping the new information Parkinson is trying to get across? Do these cup games really matter when our focus is on the league, where both victories have come under Phil?
You can point the finger at players not putting the required effort or graft in. On Tuesday we didn’t register a strike on goal inside normal time. We’ve gone from creating a handful of chances and scoring every game to being toothless and clueless in the final third. Is this down to tactics as much as the players?
I can’t help but look firmly at Parkinson. The players seem bereft of ideas or confidence in a way we never saw under Ross. Parkinson is not inspiring this group and may even be confusing them with his new ideas.
He has had opportunity to blood the youngsters and fringe players yet persists with the likes of Leadbitter and Grigg, who clearly aren’t cutting it anymore. This is his choice alone.
He has tried new formations but that has exposed players in unfamiliar roles. That hasn’t helped either. Again, testing young players in their natural positions may have been a better option, especially in cups where progress was not wholly necessary.
It’s hard to imagine this same group of players can flick a switch and beat Coventry or Burton after struggling against League Two Scunthorpe or lower League One Gillingham?
For me, a huge mistake has been made. Whatever the reasons behind that choice, it’s clear already that Parkinson hasn’t the nous or ability to get Sunderland promoted. If Ross was relieved of duties for the trajectory of the Play-Offs, why are we keeping a manager whose path is towards mid-table obscurity at best?
If the season is to be salvaged a quick and ruthless decision needs to be made ahead of the January transfer window. If Parkinson is not the man for promotion, we need to move on and give another the chance to rebuild in January.
Phil Butler says...
I have to say when Parkinson was first appointed I was underwhelmed, but willing to give him a chance to try to improve the attacking deficiencies that Sunderland had under Jack Ross. Although on paper Parkinson didn’t seem like the man to do this, early games against Tranmere and Shrewsbury showed promise as Sunderland at least looked like creating chances and scoring goals.
However, the month or so worth of games since then in various competitions has been alarming, and it seems as though Sunderland are even more toothless in attack, whilst being marginally better at the back, but still containing League One defenders who are prone to making at least one mistake over the course of a 90 (or 120) minute match.
That being said, many of Parkinson’s games haven’t been in the league, and as one of those who couldn’t care less about the cup competitions this season it would be hypocritical to shout for him to be given the boot on the back of cup results.
However, whilst my mind isn’t made up just yet, if the next month features as many draws and defeats as the last I might change my opinion and call for another change of manager whilst there’s still time to make the play-offs with momentum intact.
Phil Parkinson, I’m just still with you - you have a month to keep it that way.
Tom Albrighton says...
As an early detractor, I never felt Parkinson was the right man for the job. A history of managing small clubs with similar expectation, predominantly at lower leagues wasn’t a ringing endorsement of a CV for a Sunderland manager. Add in his style of football, it was clear it wouldn’t be conducive to what Sunderland would achieve. It all signalled an unpopular appointment. Losing 6 games in 9 has cemented the unpopularity. For me, Parkinson is already on borrowed time. Patience, if there was any to begin with, has run out.
Some may be sympathetic to Phil but I for one am not. What he inherited was a misfiring squad - a collection of players who knew their role even if they didn’t always have the technical ability to fulfil it to it’s greatest potential. What he walked into was a side not a million miles off the pace, a large squad with players to suit and crucially players with a wealth of experience.
Defensively, not much, if anything has really changed. A side still leaking goals at a consistent rate with the much fetishised clean sheets only arriving at league strugglers Tranmere and Southend, it’s not a stretch to assume even a Jack Ross side would have kept clean sheets in either game.
In attack is where Parkinson falls woefully short. Whilst our striking woes continue to be at the forefront of our issues, Parkinson has lumped pressure on Grigg consistently, for very little reward. As an attacking unit Sunderland have very rapidly slipped into decline, creativity is at a minimum, clear chances less so.
Tactically, when it comes to going forward, we are utterly inept. I’m not going to go all Football Manager on everyone here, but it’s not rocket science to realise whipping in crosses to a sub-6ft striker isn’t going to work. On a technical level we could delve into a lack of pace, stagnant midfield play and a continual and curious case of multiple players occupying the same areas of the pitch, but that’s for another day.
Ultimately Parkinson inherited a squad that required tinkering, a release of previous shackles and a nudge in the right direction. Instead what we have is another manager who isn’t aware of his best eleven, one that rarely makes a change to influence games and a side firmly on the decline. Parkinson has taken our one positive trait, that ability to score in almost any game, and completely lost it. We are as toothless as we’ve ever been.
Patience then is thin, but more borne from a frustration that for me Parkinson was never ever the right choice. A team of smaller individuals, packed with technical ability and a wealth of experience need a manager who can adapt to that as much as the players adapting to him. The reality is Parkinson has shown even at this early stage either his inability or unwillingness to change his style to suit.
I don’t think Parkinson is entirely to blame, certain individuals must also take responsibility when the whistle blows, but make no mistake, hiring a manager who exclusively plays football we already knew Sunderland can’t play and hoping that one of those two things would give is looking like a disastrous call at this early stage.
For me then, Parkinson has ran out of patience already, for it can manifest to be an infinite cycle. I made a bold prediction upon Parkinson’s appointment that with all things considered I didn’t expect him to see the season out, but at this rate he’ll be lucky to make Christmas.