Less than two months into his new job, this poisoned chalice of overseeing Sunderland Association Football Club has been one of the biggest challenges of Phil Parkinson’s career. As the scourge of the worst decade in the club’s history apparently continues, some fans have found themselves calling for the former Bolton manager’s head and replacing him with Super Kev.
Newly inaugurated ‘Sunderland AFC Hall of Famer’ Phillips has a limited coaching portfolio having worked in that capacity at Leicester City, Derby County and Stoke City respectively, and would be significantly unproven at any management level.
Being a club that has taken risk after risk for as long as I can remember, can Sunderland really afford another change at the top with the acclimatisation period that’ll come with it? Sunderland have already taken two months to adjust to Phil Parkinson’s methods without anything particularly positive coming from it (forgetting about Tranmere for a moment, anyway).
In managerial terms, Sunderland have hired the managerx that they assumed would have the skills and the previous experience to take the club back to the now heady heights of the Championship, but appear to trip up when it comes to inspiring the fanbase and giving the supporters something to cheer about.
Bringing a club legend in, like Phillips, would certainly get the fans back into the stadium (for his first game in charge, at least) and chants of Super Kev would reverberate around the recently derelict Stadium of Light. Is that enough to turn the tide here on Wearside? We have done something like this before with a certain Niall Quinn, and we all know that big Niall’s short record here wasn’t great – he wouldn’t mind us saying that.
On the other side of the argument though was Quinn’s replacement, Roy Keane, who retired from football yet was another largely unproven manager coming into the club.
He had an alright time here though, didn’t he? He brought the fans back on side - the day he turned up for Quinn’s last day in charge, against West Bromwich Albion, the atmosphere coming to the stadium had completely changed and was absolutely bouncing even though we were rock bottom of the Championship and looking doomed after a string of defeats.
Keane somehow went on to win the Championship, taking the club back to the promised land of the Premier League at the first time of asking in his first job since leaving the playing staff at Manchester United.
Kevin Phillips’ attachment to the club has been brought into question previously and whether he actually still cares for it. Phillips stated that he “would love to” manage Sunderland in the Birmingham Mail back in October when linked with the job after Jack Ross left the post, but is yet to be quoted since the inception of Parkinson.
He seems to enjoy his life in and around the Midlands and ruled out a return as an ageing player when turning us down to sign for West Brom. Although this isn’t the most important part of being a manager of a football club, fans would certainly be desperate to see a manager who actually gives the impression that he is passionate about the club. Is Phillips that man? Perhaps Sunderland will find out soon, or maybe Mr Parkinson can pull something out of the hat and retain his already stellar reputation as a manager at this level.
All in all, replacing Parkinson after less than two months in charge would be a severe, callous decision but anything less than a win against Gillingham would surely have the fans bellowing for his head.