TOPIC/QUESTION: If Sunderland fail to gain promotion this season, either automatically or via the play-offs, do you believe in Phil Parkinson enough to give him another crack at getting the job done next season?
Phil Butler says...
My gut instinct is to say yes given Sunderland’s recent improvement in both performance and results. And, perhaps more importantly Parkinson’s discovery of a system which seems to be well-drilled into the starting eleven. However, I would have to say that it depends on how we finish the season.
Obviously, if Sunderland’s form takes a major nose-dive and they drop out of the promotion race, or even if Sunderland’s form leads us to look back on the past two months as a fluke compared with the form both before and after, then of course I will say Parkinson must go at the end of the season and someone else should come in to try and get us out of this league.
However, if Sunderland fail to get promoted but this is due to other teams’ extreme form, or just miss out in the play offs despite matching many of the current top six, then I will say that Parkinson deserves the summer to try and make things work once again.
This is not only due to the improved performances and his discovery of the 3-4-2-1 system, but also to the work he managed to do in January, and his experience as a manager between Championship and League One.
Although Sunderland’s January signings haven’t seen much action since the deadline, Parkinson clearly identified weaknesses in the squad and managed to bring in players - on no budget whatsoever - who have either contributed in the starting eleven (Bailey Wright), off the bench (Lafferty), or caused the players above them in the pecking order to raise their game (Scowen and arguably Semenyo).
This would need to be a key trait of whatever manager leads Sunderland into another season in League One, especially given the number of players out of contract in the summer.
Chris Wynn says...
There have been a lot of apologies dished out recently in Phil Parkinson’s direction for suggesting he be removed from his position.
These calls were made predominantly during the months of November and December- I was one who didn’t think he could turn it around, but I’m making no apologies for making the call.
We were truly awful in the majority of games from when he took over in October up to and including our low point that occurred on Boxing day, and those calls in my opinion were fully deserved.
Hence I wrote a piece in late November suggesting I didn’t think he’d get it right but I hoped he’d prove me wrong.
The credit for turning it around all goes to Phil Parkinson and is fully deserved, in the same way as the fully deserved criticism came his way initially.
Our position in League One is now looking almost identical to the one from the day he took charge. On that basis exclusively he’s doing an ‘ok’ job, but nothing spectacular when purely looking at the clubs position.
Statistics have clearly shown he knows what he’s doing when it comes to making us solid at the back and hard to beat, but they also suggest that we’re regressing when it comes to our forward play.
There are a number of recent victories that can be looked at as fortunate in the fact we did manage to get that goal that we could hold on to. Although again you have to quite rightly tip your cap to the organisation we have to be able to hold on to that lead.
He was brought in to achieve promotion and we’re in a position to do so. There is more than enough time left this season either to cement our place in next season’s Championship or simply implode and finish in mid-table mediocrity.
The bottom line for me is that Parkinson is in the same bracket as Ross and hasn’t achieved anything until we take the next step and get promoted. I’m fairly certain Parkinson would be the first to admit that’s how he his time at Sunderland will be judged.
As far as the future is concerned, whether I believe in Phil Parkinson or not, taking into account the state of the club at the present time, I fully expect Phil Parkinson to be Sunderland’s manager in August - whatever division we find ourselves in.
Considering his performance so far and the lack of obvious candidates available to take the reins, it’s not such a bad position to find ourselves in.