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Debate: If you could offer Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson some advice, what would it be and why?

If you could offer some advice to Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson, what would it be, and why? Our panel offer up their thoughts... feel free to pass along yours, either in the comments section or by email:!

Coventry City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Phil West says...

Don’t be blindly loyal to your favoured group of players and run the risk of running them into the ground as you try to stick with a team that, by and large, has done well since the turn of the year.

Sticking with a ‘winning team’ is an admirable mantra, but if the players are pushed too far, their performance levels will inevitably dip, or worse, they’ll go down with injury.

With such reliance upon the likes of Gooch and Maguire, Parkinson is taking a big gamble by rigidly sticking with his go-to starting eleven. There’s a fine line between being blinkered and loyal, and I do fear that Parkinson is veering towards the former at the moment.

We might not have the deepest squad, but we’ve got some decent options to cover key positions, so why not give the likes of Declan John, Josh Scowen, and Antoine Semenyo some extended game time against Gillingham?

Coventry was a test that, unfortunately, we failed, and several of our players did look somewhat heavy-legged during the game. With the need to build another winning run, starting on Saturday, now could be an ideal to put some faith in our January signings and see what these lads can bring to the table.

I would also encourage Parkinson to look after Denver Hume by removing him from the firing line for a game or two. In Hume, we have a good prospect who, with time and patience, could evolve into a key player for us. At this stage, however, he is clearly playing in a state of extremely low confidence, and this needs addressing. Don’t run the risk of Hume becoming a scapegoat. Let him have a breather, and then he can return, hopefully, fully on his game for the crucial games that will comprise Sunderland’s run-in.

Coventry City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Gav says...

I think that if I was going to offer him any advice it would be to accept that whilst his system does work, it’s not foolproof and, as such, he has to show more faith to the players he brought in specifically to create competition and improve the squad.

That sounds fairly obvious, but time and again Parkinson has ignored calls for changes to be made in his side and has continued to largely pick the same team every week.

The issue, however, is that even the supporters can see what works and what doesn’t. We all want to see Denver Hume succeed, but his purpose in the side is to be a creator of chances. He’s not registered an assist since we beat Wycombe, and has just two assists in his last 22 games. We signed Declan John but have not even picked him in a match squad. Why? Same goes for Wyke, who is clearly not performing. Just give him a break and let Lafferty play. It just seems so obvious to me, yet apparently not to the manager.

Coventry City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Craig Chapman says...

Don’t cancel the upcoming game against lowly Southend United!

We are due to travel to Southend on March 28th but, given that the game falls on an international weekend, it could yet be re-arranged. Early assumptions are that we are likely to be without at least three players, with the likes of Jon and Conor McLaughlin, Tom Flanagan, Declan John and Lynden Gooch all in contention for a call-up to their respective international teams.

We’ll never know for sure how much the fixture pile up cost us last season, but in reality it can’t have helped. If I recall, we had to play our final nine games in just 32 days.

This was three fewer that Luton and Barnsley and two fewer than Charlton who all were eventually promoted. What do you think - do we run the risk of playing catch up towards the end of the season once again, or do we play it?

I’d suggest that we’ll be better off just taking the risk and playing.

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