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Fan Letters: “Mr Donald - swallow your pride and sack Phil Parkinson... He’s not the man!”

“Mr Donald - swallow your pride and sack Parkinson. He’s not the man” urges RR reader Alan. Got something to say? Email us:!

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

Dear Roker Report,

Understandably the focus in the aftermath of the Boxing Day performance has been on Phil Parkinson’s disastrous tenure as manager. Is he a bad manager? No, not necessarily. Is he the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the wrong time? Definitely. Why? Because he appears to lack the drive and character to overcome the circumstances in which the club currently exists.

Phil Parkinson alone is not responsible for the problems that continue to dog our beloved club. But he does not appear to have the resolve to bring a greater professionalism to the club either.

Two simple examples show the lack of attention to detail that runs through SAFC currently.

Firstly, the inability to properly organise the annual minutes silence, which allows fans to pay tribute to those members of the SAFC family who we have lost. A large crowd needs clear and simple guidance. Whatever happened to ‘the silence will start and finish on the referee’s whistle’?

What happened on Boxing Day was little short of shambolic. Some planning, anticipation of the response of the stadium to the Billy Hughes tribute, and liaison with the referee were all that were needed. Clearly, none of that had taken place.

Secondly, the time-wasting tactics of visiting teams over the last two seasons need no further emphasis. Yet, week after week, the club plays right into their hands with too few ball boys and girls. I mean no disrespect to any of the kids who are currently performing the task - it will be a huge experience for them - but they are too few and far between, and would clearly benefit from some coaching and direction in their role. It is particularly important when there are areas of the ground with empty rows of seats. All too often, when the ball goes out of play, momentum is lost and the opposition have all the time in the world to regroup.

We have enough junior teams to put out a decent number, understanding their task, capable of returning the ball quickly, and allowing the team to keep applying pressure.

I know some may think it odd that I am focusing on these issues when the team is performing so poorly but, if these two small examples are symbolic of the lack of organisation within the club, then simply changing manager will not necessarily bring a change of fortune. Any manager is reliant on the structures behind the scenes.

While the executive door to the Boardroom continues to revolve, we need a manager who will set high expectations for all within the club, not just for the players. A manager who will demand from others that the small details are taken care of. Phil Parkinson is clearly not that man. Nor was Jack Ross.

We should be the best team in this division. For that to happen, we must be the most organised club in this division, with every ‘i’ dotted and ‘t’ crossed.

We appear to be a long way from that. Our next manager must have the character to embed the ethos of professionalism at every level throughout the club

Mike Stubbs

Ed’s Note [Gav]: All valid concerns that have gone under the radar. The minute’s silence was an absolute joke, annoying because the video package for Billy Hughes was fantastic. The ball boys are a small annoyance but again, we don’t pay them so why would they care? We used to have someone in charge of the ball boys and it’s a small detail, but it feeds into the wider issue that there’s a lack of care and organisation right through the club.

We need big characters everywhere to be successful - on the pitch, in the boardroom and in the dugout. Currently I’d suggest we have none anywhere, and it shows.

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

Dear Roker Report,

Myself and my wife and daughter have sat in the same seats since the stadium opened, along with our friends, and we will be in the same seats next year and the year after that and so on. We are die hard fans, but I can’t say the same for some other fans. I honestly believe if we stay in this division we lose 10.000 fans at home and the away following will shrink enormously.

Mr Donald - swallow your pride and sack Parkinson. He’s not the man. We didn’t play great under Jack Ross, but we definitely played better than this.

Take heed Mr Donald - be it on your head.

Alan Fenwick

Ed’s Note [Gav]: I’m like you Alan, I go to the games with my family and it’s probably the only ‘quality’ time we have since we all live apart. The football just happens to be the worst part of the day - I’ll always go though as long as my dad and nephew do because, well.. because. Point is though that I’m noticing more and more people saying they’re going to or have decided to jack it all in, and that’s sad. Football is supposed to be fun.

Almost derelict Stadium of Light. Photo by Dave Howarth/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I remember a few days after the play off final defeat listening to Stewart Donald & Charlie Methven on the RR podcast stating that the target is 100 points this season. Bold statement but this could have been backed up if investment was made in the squad in the Summer. Oviedo and Cattermole left which reduced the wage bill. Mcgeady signed a new contract and every SAFC fan was delighted. However alarm bells started ringing soon after.

Mark Campbell, FPP takeover talks were rife. However did not come into fruition. Whilst FPP did eventually complete an investment into the club. The transfer window had shut and the shambles begun.

Willis & Burge signed on free transfers and George Dobson decent signings at this level. Lynch and Conor McLaughlin have lacked consistency. McNulty was signed on loan but has struggled for form and fitness. And Laurens De Bock should be drove back to Leeds immediately. An uninspiring window which left me massively concerned. Lack of planning and direction from top to bottom.

And the sale of George Honeyman, whilst a minority of Sunderland fans were delighted with this news including myself. It seemed the decision to sell him was made from the Board room and not Jack Ross. This spelled the end for Ross.

The board are the ones to blame for this season’s mess. Donald, Methven and their cronies are ruining our club. And hiring Phil Parkinson who is statistically Sunderland’s worst manager in our history was a terrible decision and he needs to go.

Phil Parkinson is so far out of his depth. 2 wins since he took charge, 15th in League One and playing 5 at the back and 2 holding midfielders against Bolton is the final straw. Donald apparently planning the January Window with Parkinson. Which player in the right mind would want to come to us when it is a mess on and off the pitch? I wouldn’t trust Parkinson to spend monopoly money.

At least we have the best supporters in the land. Fans are calling for change and we need to keep doing that.

All the best for the new year and to every SAFC fan.


Ed’s Note [Gav]: I feel your pain, Ewan. All we can do as fans is have our voices heard in the hope that somebody listens. I don’t think that Stewart is a bad person, just a stubborn one. He really needs to admit he’s made a mistake and attempt to fix it, or better still, leave.

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