Dear Roker Report,
The situation with Parkinson is massively frustrating. I didn’t want him as manager in the first place but naturally I hoped that I would be proved wrong. In the last year I’ve seen no real evidence to warrant optimism and I can’t help feeling that if we’re promoted this season, it will have more to do with other teams failing than us succeeding. Parkinson just has too many failings:
- His tactics are archaic
- He has no Plan B
- His substitutions are always late and entirely reactive
- He’s far too loyal to his favoured players
- He won’t give youth a chance
- He’s far too cautious
- He hasn’t addressed the key issues in the team in either transfer windows or his team selections
Saturday was a prime example of all of this. He played the same team and same basic tactical approach as last season and incredibly, got much the same result. His substitutions were late and ineffective, he started Dobson despite Scowen having the best preseason of anyone and our few remaining quality youth players couldn’t even get on the bench, even though their pace could have really opened up the game for us. It really is absolutely criminal that he’s getting away with this!
Some fans seem to think that we have terrible players but I just don’t see that at all. We have some great players for this league and one or two that might even cut it in the Championship so I honestly think we have the squad to get automatic promotion and possibly even win the league but not with Parkinson in charge. Does anyone really think that a better manager couldn’t get better results from these players? I bet BSA could get this squad promoted and I bet McCarthy could too. I bet there are quite a few managers who could do well with our players.
In the short term there is nothing to be done because Parkinson is going nowhere anytime soon. Donald was daft enough to give him a long contract and the reality is that regardless of results on the pitch, he simply can’t afford to sack him. As long as we don’t go down, we’ll have to just tread water for now, until either there’s a takeover or his contract expires.
Speaking of the takeover, what on earth has happened to that? There were supposed to be a number of interested parties, then we were supposed to be in a period of exclusivity with a preferred bidder and a deal was likely before the start of the season. What’s happened? Nothing! Total silence!
This leads me to who should take over as manager when the time eventually comes. The question is often raised of who else is realistically available? Yes, the choices are very limited because no really decent manager is going to come to a League One club with a salary cap. As a result, I think we have to be realistic and take a chance on youth so for me, it has to be Kevin Phillips.
I often hear the argument that he’s a gamble and should prove himself at a lower club but we’re in League One! How much lower can he go? The reality is that if Phillips does prove himself at a smaller club, he will end up passing us by as he moves into the Championship. He has been a well-respected coach at every club where he’s worked, he’s young, he’s hungry, he’s intelligent, he’s articulate, he gets the fans and the region and he has a passion for the club. What else do we realistically want? The same arguments against Phillips could have, and probably would have, been used by fans against the likes of Gerrard, Lampard, Barton and Arteta but who wouldn’t want them now?
I really hope we have a takeover soon so that Parkinson can be shown the door and somebody can bring Phillips in as manager with a properly modern and effective recruitment strategy. I can’t see us doing very much until that happens.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: You make some fantastic points about Parkinson and I certainly won’t argue that you’re wrong. He’s under real pressure to perform, and fast. My prediction is that he’ll be gone by the end of October due to poor results and more of what we saw on Saturday... but I’d love to be wrong, because his success is Sunderland’s success.
On the takeover - nothing new going on by the looks of it. Though, let’s be thankful William Storey is nowhere near the club at least. Here’s hoping sensible business is being conducted from the shadows, as it should be.
On the management front... I’m a SuperKev fan but I honestly believe hiring him would be a mistake. I also don’t believe any serious owner would sack Parkinson and hire a rookie as his replacement.
We need someone who the club can build with, and in my opinion that has to be someone whose career is on the up and not the other way around. Someone else suggested Danny Cowley in an edition of Fan Letters this week and... well, I like the sound of it.
But that’s just me!
Dear Roker Report,
I was sat driving on a long journey the other day when my daughter asked ‘Who are the best players at Sunderland’.
Now, 50 years ago when I was infant school it was straightforward - Billy Hughes (skilful, calm on the ball, able to beat a man) or Dave Watson (great in the air, scored a good half dozen goals a season). Going forward it was Gary Rowell - for those penalties and much more. Latterly Phillips, Quinn, Sorensen, Schwarz etc sprang to mind.
But now I was stuck - really stuck. Two years ago it was Maja by a country mile. McGeady probably would have got a mention 18 months back. Now though it’s September 2020, and I couldn’t honestly think of anyone who I could rate as pretty good even by the standards of this God-forsaken league.
I thought about it then worked backwards. ‘I can tell you who’s really bad’ I offered as a bargaining chip. And off I went - Flanagan doesn’t run properly, O’Nien is a great lad but as one-paced as a mobility scooter, Power - if the Titanic had changed direction as quickly then more lives would have been lost, Wyke - six foot something and cannot recall a headed goal in the league - as Paul Merson once said on his arrival to manage at Walsall : ‘Players could trap the ball further than I could kick it.’
I was mid flow through the one trick pony that is Gooch and his stepover when we arrived at the destination.
We have been on other journeys since but strangely she hasn’t asked the question again.
One game in and fed up already. Sad!
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Chris Maguire, Jordan Willis, erm...
Yeah. The choice isn’t great.
Fortunately we have some good young players emerging, but I worry that they’ll see opportunities come few and far between for as long as Parkinson is in charge. None of them made his bench last weekend despite Diamond and Neil in particular enjoying strong pre-season campaigns. Embleton isn’t fit but I do wonder if he makes the 18 even when he is.
Dear Roker Report,
Oh how far have we fell - and by reading some reports, still falling.
Even the supporters are not thinking big now, they are not thinking of bringing in the likes of Big Sam, Martin O’Neill, Gus, Dick. We’re talking about the Cowleys, Paul Cook etc.
I’m not disrespecting those people but should we not be wanting to aim higher with our ambitions. If we don’t get a good start to this season we will be in this division forever.
Draws are no good as proved last season with the PPG system hanging over your head.
Playing five at the back tells me the manager is frightened of losing games which kept us where we are now. Can you imagine Peter Reid or Roy Keane saying to the players “Right lads it’s a home game so we are going one up front and five in defence and you other lot play just in front of the defence” yeah... and some of these players today have got to grow some and get into it. If you lot give us 100 minutes on that pitch we’ll back you to the hilt.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I think we’ve got to get a grip and realise where we are. I’m not so sure about Paul Cook, but the Cowleys are a management duo on a career ascendency - why not go a different route and back management that can grow with the club? I want to see Sunderland step into the 21st century, and with the current manager that just doesn’t seem possible.
I do agree with you about standards, though. Sunderland have lost their arrogance as a club, and we’ve continually let teams take the p*ss out of us, on our own patch - take Bristol Rovers last week, for example. Teams don’t fear us and instead relish the opportunity to play us. That, to me - and to you, I suppose - is unacceptable. We need our ‘bite’ back.
Dear Roker Report,
Why is it we get the leftovers on loan?
Seems as though little Accrington have found a natural goalscorer with 4 in 2 games on loan from Chelsea and didn’t they also have young Windass who is now at Sheffield Wednesday? We always start our recruiting late but at least Parkinson is to treat our 2nd team as the reserves which always used to be the case.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Beats me! Personally I’d rather see us buy players we can develop and move on for a profit, but if there are good players looking for loans then they have to be considered. I think it’s as clear as day that we lack pace in a bunch of key areas, so maybe that’s a cost-effective way of adding to our squad... but the transfer window doesn’t close for another month or so, so we could just be biding our time when it comes to transfers.