Recent results and form have placed Phil Parkinson under pressure. However, given the nature of his post-match comments you would think that everything is just fine, and that we are right on track.
Parkinson seems to be comfortable with an away draw at Doncaster - and was only a little bit disappointed with a home defeat to the mighty MK Dons. Those of us who have lived and breathed Sunderland for a lifetime? Well... we are fuming.
We all know that we should take with a pinch of salt the public utterances of a football manager, as often what is said behind closed doors is very different to the public messages. Sir Alex Ferguson was a master at it.
Does it really matter anyway? Of course, it does. The manager is the mouthpiece of the club - the statements he makes set the tone. They affect the mood and the expectations of the fans and the players. It is all that the outside world hear, it forms their view of the club. Parkinson has managed to diminish all hope, all expectation and any dreams which we had for this testing season of all seasons to literally nothing.
What is left if all hope has gone?
Does anyone really believe that Phil Parkinson is fuming at the loss of points recently - points which we should have gained? Or do we feel that he is accepting of the current levels - that 8th place in League one is normal for this club? Well Phil... it’s not normal.
Sunderland are top ten all-time achievers in England - we don’t accept a point away at Doncaster because they beat Lincoln City. It might surprise you, Phil, but we really don’t.
The minimal changes to first team selections which Parkinson makes and his blind faith inflexibility of tactics suggest that he is content. Not to mention his apparent lack of trust in youth and his reluctance to use substitutes.
What does this tell his back up players who are seeing failure in front of their eyes? What hope do the younger lads have of progressing under him?
This squad is by far the most expensive in this league. It has its weaknesses and its limitations, but by god, it is better than this, isn’t it?
Danny Graham, Dion Sanderson and Aiden O’Brien played in the championship last season. Yet, inexplicably Parkinson persists with the lumbering Charlie Wyke as his main man – Wyke a footballer who is lucky to be playing above League Two. He selected Luke O’Nien and a half-fit Jordan Willis in defence ahead of Sanderson – what was going through that lad’s mind when he saw that? I won’t bring O’Brien into this as it is difficult from the evidence so far to see how he has played so many games at a higher level.
Has his ability really diminished so much in three short months? Who knows. Maybe it’s just the Sunderland curse claiming another victim or maybe his confidence is shot from being shuffled about, I don’t know I had never heard of the lad until this summer but the Millwall fans seemed to rate him.
This manager's reluctance to try the youthful enthusiasm and promise of a Dan Neil or a Jack Diamond instead of the stodge of Max Power or the infuriatingly inconsistent Chris Maguire is more than irritating. These are players of pace and promise - untainted by previous failure; young lads who have an attachment to the club, and they deserve a chance. A proper chance - not three minutes of injury time out of position.
I am just a middle-aged know nowt football fan, but they look ready to me.
Now that Elliot Embleton is fit - a player of skill and flair; a player who has been involved with the National Age Group Squads for years - does anybody have any faith that Parkinson will use him or even give him a proper chance? I don’t.
Managers are primarily judged on results, and whilst we are still - in theory at least - in with a chance of promotion, the signs aren’t good. League One is poor this season, and we should be better than this.
We are told to be patient. Chopping and changing managers is - in part - what got us into this mess. Well, patience is fine – it is fine if there is a visible plan and clear signs of improvement. But what has changed in the 12 months since Jack Ross left?
Not much to my eyes. We are still a mish-mash. Yes, we are fitter, we seem more disciplined, but there is no style, no swagger, no intent - we can’t be confident of promotion, and I can only conclude that Parkinson isn’t either if he thinks that this is good enough.
So, I am sorry Phil, if we were allowed in to the stadium the song that you would hear would be “Time to go, time to go” over and over and over again.
It pains me to write this, but I am afraid that it is - it is time to go, Phil.