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Dodging Duties: What do you think about Phil Parkinson avoiding the media after Saturday’s draw?

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What do you think about Phil Parkinson dodging media duties after the game, and the excuse given for why he sent Steve Parkin out there in his place? Is it not a big deal, or does it show that he’s not up to the job?

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

Sean Brown says...

When I was initially resigned to Phil being made the new manager, despite my protests, I like everyone else had a little look around for bits on him. An interview with the coaches voice conducted while he was still at Bolton popped up and I found it interesting reading.

He seems to be a manager who is heavily into sports psychology (which is now making me chuckle a little) and he spoke about reacting to a bad result:

As the manager, you always have to think about how you are presenting yourself to the players. That’s why I don’t like coming in the day after a game, because emotions are running high. There are things you would say on a Sunday that you definitely wouldn’t say on a Monday. I need Sunday on my own, with my family, so that by Sunday evening I’m working things out. Putting them in perspective.

Now of course he’s talking about dealing with the squad you would assume, but having little knowledge of him before his arrival I’m not sure if that means he just wants to think about it before opening his mouth.

The problem with this is it doesn’t seem to matter whether he’s had time to think about it, as his response to the media will be standard and generally dull. His thoughts on how to deal with the players mentality following, or even preceding a game, means he’ll simply say whatever necessary to get the mics/cameras out of his face so he can think about it all some more.

What interests me is: Is he thinking about anything but escape? He knows he’s not wanted by a large swathe of the fanbase and that must take its toll on the mind. Not that it isn’t his own fault for taking such a job to begin with, but he is only human after all. Also in all honesty I don’t think I’d have cared what he said anyway. I think the general response to his by-the-book Managerial soundbites would’ve been overwhelmingly negative for obvious reasons as nobody seems to understand just what he’s doing, and he looks and behaves like he shares our confusion.

I’d also like to point out something else I saw in the aforementioned article, and it’s very, very relevant to now and to us as a club:

In the January window, you either pay a player over the odds, or you get the players no one else really wants.

Now in our situation, looking ahead to the January window to see how exactly he’s going to manage to build his own side. That’s making me more nervous every day. I think about it every few hours; It wakes me up at night sweating profusely.

The quote isn’t exactly profound as we all feel the same way about the winter window. However this is a man who will shape the rest of our season with these players “nobody else wants” as he’s certainly not going to be “paying over the odds” and he’ll have to make something work, somehow. That’s a huge gamble as he’s failed to make it work with a team that the previous manager could (more often than not) get some sort of tune out of, even if they were endless 1-1 draws, they’re better than endless losses.

Hindsight is a bitch and that’s just more of what we have to look forward to should his reign continue. In my opinion, I think he’s a good man and I wish him and his family all the best this Christmas, but at this point in time I’d rather he spent all his time with his family and went on his merry way to “walk the dog and clear his thoughts” for at least a few years, somewhere far, far away from here.

I’ve heard great things about Newfoundland. Just saying.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says...

Phil Parkinson dodging his press conference on Saturday pointed to one thing and one thing only - a man who is lost.

Under the weight of expectation, from the outside, it seems as if Parkinson is crumbling. Saturday wasn’t great, it wasn’t even good but it wasn’t exactly the worst day Parkinson has had at the helm either, which makes his choice to delegate his duty to his assistant all the more bizarre. We haven’t had a steady stream of games recently, nor has there been nothing to discuss - highlighted when merely days before (whether you agree or not) Parkinson was happy to face the press on the more concerning issue of Aiden McGeady and his well-documented fall from favour.

As a manager of any professional club let alone one of this size and stature, no manager should be caught hiding and make no mistake, this is what this is. As fans we appreciate honesty, accepting mistakes and just dialogue in general. We are passionate, but not unreasonable. There are very few reasons to not take a press conference - illness, emergencies or just a general team grilling are the few that can be accepted, but not Saturday’s excuse which was essentially “I don’t want to”.

As a Sunderland manager you stand up and be counted, whether that’s positive or negative. You don’t hide. We’ve had managers come out after a derby day hiding, ones come out after relegation and most recently Jack Ross after the play-off heartbreak.

A 1-1 draw at home to Blackpool will get you fair criticism, but it is not an excuse to hide.

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

Damian Brown says...

I certainly don’t think it means he isn’t up for the job, not by a long way. For whatever reason he isn’t right for the job it isn’t that he doesn’t see the benefit of a post-match chat that’s going to be purely about how grim the situation is.

It’s easy to say he’s avoiding his responsibilities but it’s also somewhat sensationalist. It isn’t a set press conference, he hasn’t gone into hiding, he probably just doesn’t feel that anything good could come from stating the obvious. Indeed, many good managers have been applauded for their self-awareness in tactically avoiding reactionary scenarios where they might call the team sh*t and the ref boll*cks.

I’d sooner make the assumption that it’s a sensible choice than an unreasoned one, or one that’s driven by some fatal flaw of character.

It’s pretty obvious what’s wrong with the squad and what they fail to do on the pitch. Sending out his right hand man to field platitudes to a media and fan base that won’t welcome excuses or reasons or anything that they might actually deem meaningful or relevant. That isn’t to say that he should shirk his responsibility to talk to the press but, as I say, he hasn’t balked at a presser, he’s just declined the opportunity to make a tit of himself in front of the camera when he’s likely feeling as emotionally frustrated as the audience.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to call Sunderland fans a baying crowd, they’re definitely looking for a place to lay blame and, invariably, a face to put on the dart board. If anyone can honestly say that Parkinson could have said anything to make them feel better post Blackpool, that wasn’t “I’m sh*t, I admit it and I quit”, I’ll be amazed.

In a conflict scenario it’s universally inadvisable to tell the players of the conflict to “calm down”, because it demeans what they themselves perceive to be justifiable issues. I would suggest this is akin to that. If you’re angry that Parkinson didn’t speak to the fans, are you angry because you wanted him to be honest with you? Because the truth would have been repetition of what he’s already said, and it isn’t something anyone wants to hear.