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Where are Sunderland heading?

In today’s Roker Roundtable, our contributors talk about their chronic sense of worry as to where Sunderland AFC are heading this season. What do you think?

Sunderland v Rotherham United - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Q: Sum up your feelings right now about the direction the club is heading, and what you think needs to be done.

Craig Davies says...

Confused and deflated. You know it’s been a horrific evening when Parkinson - whose textbook and rehearsed platitudes regarding inept performances border Simon Grayson proportions - wearily admits a team that HE manages, HE trains and HE picks ‘stopped playing after we went behind.’ That sentence surely must form part of his resignation speech to Stewart Donald this morning.

When you publicly admit your team has stopped playing, effectively downing tools, and you’re ultimately responsible for the performance of that team.... well, even if the owner doesn’t accept his offer to walk away, an honourable Parkinson should offer to go regardless.

But Parkinson is merely a symptom of a general malaise that wraps its strangling grip like a boa constrictor around the club, choking the last remnants of oxygen from the chest of its limp and gasping prey. He’s a hapless, albeit well-paid patsy who has been thrust into the hot seat by ill qualified men playing football manager with our great club.

As for the direction of the club - this is where my tender emotions slowly transform from deflation to befuddlement. How can we be so adrift from cohesion and structure? Didn’t Methven announce in his very first press conference that the p*ss-taking part was over? Over? It seemed it had not even truly begun!

We have gone from that macho assertive statement to nearly two years later and the club’s own manager is claiming the players have stopped playing.

Right now we’re closer to the bottom three than we are the top. The direction seems alarmingly clear. We can’t win away and can’t win at home. We can’t score more than our opposition, and we preserve with players who drag the pace of play down to the speed of eleven tortoises frighting over a piece of lettuce. Our recruitment strategy has been disastrous. The scouting network - with the keen eyes of two short-sighted, elderly moles with cataracts - should hang their heads in shame.

I’m not ashamed to admit I was a big fan of Stewart Donald and his rhetoric. I don’t want to cast away all of my faith even now. I want him to succeed, because if he does, we all do. But even his silky southern spin can’t manipulate the facts. We’re an absolute horror show and he must accept accountability for his part in this disaster, because the club under his leadership is currently going in one direction - and it’s not the one we want or need.

Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Mark Carrick says...

To sum up my feelings would be a mixture of frustration, anger and confusion.

Frustration due to the fact we have seen this group of players roll up their sleeves and bounce back from poor results and performances before. Last season a bad game under Ross was quickly put right. This season the same group, by and large, are bouncing from one calamity to another under Parkinson. That turns to anger, for how can the players down tools, as Parkinson clearly said himself last night. Is it that their limitations have been found out or, more likely, the new gaffer has them confused, deflated and incapable of playing to the standards Ross set last year? Confusion then rears its head in where we go from here.

The club is now heading alarmingly downwards. Ross left the side sixth and within touching distance of the promotion pack. Now we lie 11th and some way off. Four points from two home games was a must - Parkinson managed one, and that only just! He persists with slow players, players who haven’t bought into his ways, players who, quite frankly, appear to be waiting for the summer and the end of their contracts. Meanwhile youngsters like Benji Kimpioka kick their heels without being given a run in the side.

The January transfer window is being pitched as the saving grace. An opportunity to bring in a couple of key players, ones with power and pace we are told, who will change the team and Parkinson’s fortunes around.

Frankly I don’t think Parkinson should be given that window. It’s clearly been the wrong appointment and Stewart Donald, upon his return from a self-imposed break, needs to come back all guns blazing and reverse this mistake.

It’s time to be brave, be ruthless, grab the bull by the horns. The season is not beyond us yet, even if the aim now is promotion via the Play-offs. An appointment that spares no money to bring in a confident, even arrogant, character who knows his style and has the ability to re-motivate and add to this group is now December’s must-do activity.

Crystal Palace v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Tom Atkinson says...

I think every Sunderland fan is rightly frustrated and anxious. This season has been grim viewing thus far. If truth be told, the struggles began this past summer in the transfer market after protracted takeover talks failed to bring fresh investment. That uncertainty, coupled with a limited preseason, has left the whole club feeling disorientated - we’ve never recovered.

Moving forward it’s difficult to even fathom as to what needs to be done in order to fix this monumental mess. The side look bereft of confidence and passion, the new manager has done nothing to improve our position - in fact he’s worsened it.

Furthermore, fans are rightly upset, and the owners are left wondering whether they stick or twist moving into December.

On paper Parkinson looked a decent appointment, so who’s to say the next gaffer will bring a turnaround in our fortunes? That being said do we gamble now and hope the new appointment can help lift the club - especially if we give him the January window to strengthen?

Honestly, the whole situation is a complete mess that will take a monumental effort to find a solution. Gutted.

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