Phil Butler says...
I suppose the short answer to that would be yes, my stance has altered on Phil Parkinson, although admittedly my views on the manager have increased from what was a very low bar. Just a couple of weeks ago I lamented Sunderland’s lack of a plan, and wondered what players Sunderland would even want to target in order to improve in January.
Now, with the window open, it’s clear to see that Sunderland have a way of playing, with eleven set roles and a formation that is certain to start each game. This also means Sunderland's strengths and weaknesses are obvious, with a striker top of that list and probably to difference between Sunderland gaining two more points since Boxing Day.
In short, Parkinson is in a similar situation to David Moyes after he won those two games against Bournemouth and Hull. It’s his mess that he’s cleaning up, but he is showing signs that he’s capable of doing just that as long as some key players don’t get injured, and as long as he is backed in the transfer window. Things didn’t work out for Moyes that season, let’s hope things are different for Sunderland three years later.
Tom Albrighton says...
In light of recent events, my stance on Parkinson hasn’t changed. Not yet anyway.
Whilst there are signs of life there isn’t enough to suggest Sunderland will be going all Tyson Fury and picking themselves up off the canvas with such drama.
As Alex alluded to on this week's podcast, I too would delight in eating humble pie should Parkinson succeed, but I can’t see it.
A change in formation and a more attacking set up has reaped rewards in its infancy stage but with the opposition on show in these games over a hectic festive period, it’s not unreasonable to suggest this may just be a flash in the pan and if it isn’t that, is there a concern we are becoming a team akin to Peterborough in becoming flat-track bullies?
Frailties are still on show for all to see and even this weekend, had Lincoln not gifted us two goals the game would have been a far more nervy affair to all. At the moment it’s hard to tell whether there’s been any tangible improvement due to the inconsistent nature of League One. Sterner tests lay ahead, specifically Wycombe this weekend will provide an opportunity for us to learn a lot more in regard to where Sunderland truly are.
It will only be then and the culmination of the January transfer window before we will really know if those like myself - Parkinson sceptics - are right or wrong.
For now then, my stance is unchanged.
Sam Blakey says...
Parkinson does deserve credit for the last three games in terms of the way he has set up the team and the way we have played. After Bolton on Boxing Day a response was very much needed and over the last three games both Parkinson and the players have provided one.
It’s important that we don’t write off the start of Parkinson’s tenure just because of two wins and a draw from three games, however he seems to have more of a system in place and a style of play.
I still think we could easily slip back into poor form, however there is also no reason why we shouldn’t kick on from recent performances and start putting a promotion push in place. A very good way to do this is by dispatching top of the league Wycombe on Saturday, in front of our home fans.
We need players to continue to perform as well as they have been in recent weeks, with the likes of Gooch, Willis and Hume starting to find some good form over the compact amount of games in the festive period. Losing McGeady is a blow to our quality on the pitch, however Gooch has steps up after returning from injury and has been excellent - more of the same is needed from him in particular.
As I alluded to earlier, Wycombe is a real test for Parkinson and the players in terms of just how much they have turned their form around. Wycombe will certainly be no pushovers, however a solid performance could very easily see them beaten at the stadium of light and then the promotion push would be well and truly on. Ha’way the lads!
James Lowson says...
Absolutely - whether it’s the fickle nature of football fandom or recency bias, after the last three games I feel Phil Parkinson has earned the right to see out the season as Sunderland manager. If someone had said that to me after Boxing Day, I’d have thought they were insane.
I’m still not enamoured with Parkinson’s playing style and approach to winning football matches, and I completely agree with Phil’s point that Parkinson has taken Sunderland backwards and therefore shouldn’t be given too much credit for making the lads look like a play-off team again. But we do look like a decent League One outfit again, and the ex-Bolton manager deserves our support whilst we work out whether this upturn in form is sustainable.
On the pitch as far as I’m concerned, all Parkinson has to do is continue to coax performances of a similar standard out of the players.
If Sunderland continue to outplay midtable teams and potential play-off sides on a regular basis, overwhelming teams with our energy and tempo that’s fine by me. The transfer window adds an extra level of intrigue and will be another way to draw further conclusions when it comes to Parkinson.
But at this point, we know recruitment decisions don’t solely rest with him and the infrastructure around the manager is substandard, so giving him too much credit or criticism for what happens off the pitch in January doesn’t sit right with me.
The combination of Parkinson’s track record and our recent form has me excited about the prospect of eating humble pie and getting behind a manager I was praying would be sacked throughout most of December.