Q: Since Phil Parkinson arrived we have lost four out of six games in all competitions - yet, in the league, we are three points off third position with two games in hand. How do you feel about our form, current situation and where we’re headed?
Craig Davies says...
I couldn’t have cared any less about last night’s result if I tried. I didn’t flicker one ounce of disappointment - and I suspect neither did Phil Parkinson, whose sole duty upon given the job must have been to organise us sufficiently to get us promotion, by hook or by crook.
His absolute priority must be the league - as I would estimate that not many fans would forgive another season in League One, even if that meant a trip to Wembley.
As for Parkinson and the debate over whether or not he has improved the team, I think it’s a little too early to cartwheel down the street in the joy of his footballing carnival. It’s also a little too soon to cast him aside as a Jack Ross clone unable to squeeze any quality from his faltering players. I think there have been improvements, but they are marginal.
That said - I’m not sure what else we expected?
We’ve moved up the table and we’ve definitely looked more dangerous. At the back we seem more cohesive and organised. Results haven’t been spectacular but he’s not taking over a struggling Manchester United. We have to be realistic about the consistency and quality of League One players.
Saying that, I think it’s difficult to say there’s been no improvement at all and this step by step evolution will continue to develop and improve. I feel a good January window and some gritty, solid results before then during a hectic festive schedule and Parkinson will have placed us on a sustainable platform in which we can claw our way to promotion.
My confidence in him isn’t floating sky high to a football utopia based on his Barcelona shaped approach to tactics, but it is creeping it’s way up to a grounded optimism that we are slowly getting better, and that if this continues he will put us in a greater position to get out of this league.
James Nickels says...
Honestly, I couldn’t have cared less about last night. Last year our participation and eventual progression in the EFL Trophy was a novelty (U21 teams aside) and a chance to finally win at Wembley. This season, it is a burden.
I think we are playing better football no than we were under Jack Ross, and if not for better finishing could’ve turned those losses into victories. All over the pitch, successful combinations are appearing - we’re controlling games more often, creating more chances and are more defensively solid.
It is still only November, we have just received a boost in investment and have January still to come. With this in hand, and the fact we are still within touching distance of the automatic spots, the current situation doesn’t have me that worried whatsoever.
Though the results are hugely disappointing, the performances largely have been more promising than even some of our victories this season under Ross, and we are playing better football - even if we’re still somewhat ponderous at times.
Play faster, find a goalscorer and sign some players with genuine pace and a final product and we’ll be fine. Put it this way, I fell considerably more confident with Parkinson in charge than Ross despite the defeats.
Tom Albrighton says...
Since Parkinson’s arrival the standard of our football has been suspect at best, which is probably fairly represented in the results so far. Sunderland feel like they’re treading water at the moment, keeping our heads just above the surface, and it’s just about how long we can keep going.
Unsatisfying performances coupled with fortunate results emanating from our league rivals means we find ourselves in a half-decent league position and one that belies the current ambivalence and concern shown by the Sunderland faithful.
Eventually, just like Ross before him, something will have to give. The same problems as the tenure before are rising once again to the front as we ponder just how excited or optimistic to get regarding this season. A few convincing performances coupled with wins would certainly ease the fears, but the fact it’s not even Christmas and we’re already looking around us, hoping sides drop points is a massive clue as to where we are.
Phil Butler says...
To be honest, I’ve found some of the negativity surrounding the start Sunderland have made under Phil Parkinson slightly baffling.
When Jack Ross left the club many saw it as a chance for Sunderland to play more attacking football, and that’s exactly what’s happened in all of Parkinson’s games so far.
Apart from the game against Wycombe, which took place after Parkinson had taken only one training session, Sunderland have stopped playing one-paced midfielders and injected energy into all areas of the pitch, started getting the ball forward faster and with more intent, had more shots than under Jack Ross and barely showed any sign of playing the dour, long-ball Pulis-ball we were warned our new manager would bring.
Whilst results haven’t been great, and the performance against Southend wasn’t the best, I’m still quietly confident Parkinson is the man to get us promoted, and I’ve seen nothing so far to change my mind.