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The king is dead, long live the king!

Phil Parkinson didn’t make the team believe in themselves, and the ability of the next Sunderland manager to do that over the next 30-odd games is crucial. 

Sunderland Unveil New Manager Phil Parkinson Photo by Sunderland AFC/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Stop the clocks, cut off the telephone. Prevent the dog barking with a juicy bone. Silence the pianos and with muffled drum, bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Parky has gone but there will be no one lamenting his loss.

The last year of durge created the most febrile of atmospheres; an intense focus barely off Phil Parkinson when it came to on-field shortcomings. Yet the irony is now he has gone, this is a manager who will barely be remembered.

The good times? Tranmere at home was good, and Wycombe raised a smile. The bad? Gillingham (x3), Burton, Bristol Rovers, MK Dons, Portsmouth (x2), Bolton, Mansfield. I could go on. Ultimately this is a man who made Sunderland AFC more of a League One club than an aspirational Championship one. His departure was as inevitable as it was necessary.

Who finally pulled the trigger isn’t clear, but it’s a decision which fans can universally get behind. The turgid football, the stubborn refusal to stare facts in the face, the inability to trust in youth. This was a man who was getting far less than the sum of its parts from the squad.

“I am my harshest critic” he said - well, the harshest of critics are those who are most likely to change things, yet Parkinson was about as likely to change things as a Donald Trump lawsuit.

Fleetwood Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Promotion must be achieved this season; there cannot be another managerial change after this during the campaign if that is to be realised. So here we are again - Sunderland have had more sliding doors moments over the years than a Tesco Extra.

Imagine if Perez hadn’t come for that cross against Charlton, or if Toure hadn’t stuck that 30-yarder in at Wembley, or if Moyes had decided to turn down Ellis Short for the umpteenth time.

We just don’t know what things would have been like, so the next move is a critical one.

Whoever comes in will be able to glean a lot from Parkinson's failings. The timid approach to games, negative or non-existent substitutions, and an aversion to changing his approach meant that teams - as long as they did their homework - could work Sunderland out pretty quickly.

The antidote to this? A willingness to take risks in order to gain control, proactive substitutions and faith in the whole of the squad; particularly those who are developing and improving but are good enough to play at this level (see: Diamond, J for example).

The new manager would help themselves immeasurably on their first day in the job if they sit down with players and ask “come on then lads, what was Phil getting wrong then?”

Sunderland v Milton Keynes Dons - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Sir Alex Ferguson had it right: as Roy Keane recounted, all he needed to say in a pre-match team talk against Spurs was “lads, it’s Tottenham”.

Sometimes it feels that’s what you need to say in this league. “Lads, it’s League One” might have been appropriate, I don’t know... a thousand times over the last two and a bit years.

Yes, I know it’s important to respect your opponents, but sometimes you can have too much respect. A little bit of arrogance and swagger would have seen Rochdale, Doncaster and Fleetwood recently turn into nine points, because we would have been out of sight. But Parkinson didn’t make the team believe in themselves, and the ability of the next Sunderland manager to do that over the next 30-odd games is crucial.

The frustration is that this is not a complicated riddle. Fans were not asking him to reinvent the wheel. They (we) realise what a tough job it must be as Sunderland manager right now, but that does not insulate people from criticism - especially when the shortcomings were patently obvious, whether you have made a career out of football, or simply spent decades screaming yourself horse from the stands.

If the new man gets that, it’ll give them the best chance possible.

The king is dead, long live the king!

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