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What does Parky need to do to turn Sunderland’s season around/save his job?

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What does Phil Parkinson need to do across the coming five games to turn our season around, and potentially save his job in the event of a change in ownership?

Sunderland v Crewe Alexandra - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says...

Ultimately I think we all know the crushing reality of this question is that Parkinson can’t and won’t turn our season around and any answer is entirely hypothetically. As a manager who would rather play players out of position than blood youth and sticks to a back 5 when our total of fit defenders is less than that says it all.

In the land of make-believe, a fantasy island if you will, Parkinson’s answers aren’t unknown to him and everyone else around the club. The first answer is employing youth talents. Despite some moderate injury upsets, Embleton, Neil and Diamond have found their time in the squad sporadic to say the least. In a side bereft of drive, enthusiasm and creativity leaving out these raw yet ambitious players is an own goal. Accompany the lack of youth talent being utilised to Parkinson's own comments regarding the continual commission of Aiden McGeady, and he really has shot himself in the foot. Starting to utilise younger players will not only invigorate his style but will most likely land him in good favour.

Substitutions and their timing is another bugbear with fans and more pro-active rather than reactive substitutions would add a greater dynamic to the play. Making progressive changes to positively influence the game, rather than like for like swaps 70 minutes in may well just allow Sunderland to fully exert the benefit of their large and diverse squad. Of course though, that would involve having an attacking bench. Not something Parky likes.

Finally, what Parkinson needs to do to salvage his job, our season and any semblance of credibility is to entirely change how Sunderland play. Until he can change Sunderland's direct, attritional and ultimately offensive football, there’s nothing Parkinson can do to regain favour with the fans.

Sunderland v Milton Keynes Dons - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Phil West says...

Although our performances and results of late have been wretched, there is a chance, however slim, that Phil Parkinson can turn things around and save his job. It might be a forlorn hope, but the season is still young enough to be salvaged, and we are by no means out of the running to grab that all-important automatic promotion slot.

It is time for Parkinson to grasp the nettle, fulfil his pledge to follow a path of youth development, and to bring our crop of promising academy-bred players into the first team picture. No more excuses, no more loss of nerve. The time is now. Parkinson, up to now, has been all talk and very little action regarding young players in league matches. If that changes, he may be able to turn things around, or at least leave the team in a reasonably healthy state if and when he does depart.

The team needs an injection of pace, some dynamism, and some creative spark, and the likes of Jack Diamond, Dan Neil, and Elliot Embleton can provide it. We need to start taking the game to the opposition with a more positive mindset, and start showing some meaningful intent. Parkinson needs to drill into the players the need to get mentally tougher, and they have to respond.

Also, Parkinson needs to get our defence back into a more resilient, reliable shape. The early-season defensive solidity seems to have vanished recently, and we simply have to get it back. Keeping clean sheets was one of our key foundations a short while ago, and if we can at least tighten up at the back, that might give us a platform from which a potential turnaround can be launched.

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

Reece Davies says...

For me, take no less than 10 points. If he is going to be anywhere near that, he needs to take the stabilizers off and play to whatever strengths this team has.

He is caught in the dilemma of having to play his most trusted players (experienced) and persevering with his tactics. Unfortunately, his inability to adapt and deal with what he has is worrying. It’s well documented how Sunderland approach every game, and we’re getting found out by teams that do their homework.

When you add in to the mix that he places round pegs in square holes (O’Nien at left centre back, Diamond or Gooch at wing back), it allows teams to pinpoint or weaknesses from the outset.

If he adds fluidity to tactics and formations then he will reap the benefits. Floating between 3-5-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 is such a simple concept for the personnel we have which will allow us to put teams on the back foot for long periods of games.

His reluctance to blood the young lads in league games is part of the problem, and he plays in to the hands of the opposition by not throwing the unknown in the mix. Bottom line is that Parky is an analogue manager in the digital age and the sooner he goes the sooner this team can flourish under what will hopefully be a younger and innovative manager.

Sunderland v Milton Keynes Dons - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Kelvin Beattie says...

For me the style of football has been one of the most disappointing aspects.

A commentator called us “high flying” the other night, which was a ridiculous comment that exemplified perfectly the stats versus style/performance debate.

Can Parky change his style of play? We saw for a good part of the second half of the MK game that we can raise the pace of our game and attack down both flanks.

Can Parky create any threat from the middle of our midfield? We need to change from “back pass city” to a team that can attack down either flank or through our midfield.

I want to see Diamond and Neil given good game time. I want Gooch to play down either flank and have an offensive brief. I would definitely give Graham and Grigg a go because we have them, a reasonable go together, both have complimentary abilities and both can bring other players in to play.

I believe our defenders have probably been the better aspect of the team so far, we have options and different formations we could play.

Time for high risk, we will score more goals than you football....

I would love that... but it will not happen!