Time to hold my hands up - I’m a fickle twat. Especially when it comes to Sunderland.
At 2pm last Saturday I was ready to cart Phil Parkinson off to Cherry Knowles after seeing his team selection, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
Having looked slow and lethargic against Bristol Rovers, he decided to further reduce the level of pace in the side by bringing Grant Leadbitter and Danny Graham into the fold - and, to Parkinson’s credit, it worked an absolute treat.
Football manager knowing his players better than the fans... fancy that, eh!
Leadbitter’s inclusion in particular raised eyebrows, but it was probably his best game in a Sunderland shirt away from home for some time. Credit not only goes to the player, but to his manager, who believed in him enough to stick him in the side at a time when support wasn’t exactly surrounding the decision.
It has been said that Parkinson favours experience over youth, and that his teams play dull but efficient football. That won’t excite many Sunderland fans and it certainly doesn’t excite me, but if we keep picking up results then who can really complain?
I never saw Saturday’s result coming, particularly at half time, but credit has to go to everyone involved - we came out second half and dominated the game. It was a response from Sunderland that we haven’t seen too often in the past from Parkinson’s side, and perhaps a reminder that this man *might* have a decent enough grip on what’s going on.
It gives us the best possible footing going into the match with Peterborough - another alleged promotion rival, another side with a point to prove, and a side who have spent money this summer.
They’ve not had a great start to the season, though, and needed two late goals on Saturday to rescue victory from the jaws of defeat - typical of Darren Ferguson’s sides, perhaps, but not a style in which you’d generally associate with sides gunning for automatic promotion.
Despite feeling the lift that comes with winning games in such a dramatic fashion, they won’t be underestimating Sunderland. Despite our flaws we’re a side who doesn’t score many goals, but also doesn’t concede many - another thing that Parkinson arguably deserves some credit for.
You know how it goes, though - losing on Saturday will probably bring us right back down to earth with a bang. We’ll be back to calling the manager worse than shite, needing a change in formation, needing new players in quick before the deadline - that’s just the fickle nature of football. Let’s be honest... it wouldn’t be much fun if we didn’t act irrationally in those moments from time to time!
Phil Parkinson said recently that he doesn’t read social media, and it’s probably for the best. I went on like an embarrassing tit when I saw his team selection on Saturday but calmed down considerably come full time... perhaps it’s time to take a leaf out of Phil’s book, calm down a bit and just see how things go.
I think everyone prior to the season starting would have agreed that ten league games was a fair enough sample size with which to fairly judge if Parkinson was going to be the man to take Sunderland forward and, crucially, get us promoted. We’re just two games in, with four points on board - that’s two points per game, the figure which most pundits would agree results in promotion come the end of the season if you’re able to maintain it.
Twenty points from ten games, then - if we’re able to attain that, or higher, would it be fair to say Phil Parkinson is on track to achieve what he set out to do?
I guess time will tell.
Ultimately, the fickle nature of football may dictate where things go from here. I could be sat here wanting rid of him in a few weeks, or we could be flying high and I could be singing his praises. All I know is that either way it won’t be particularly exciting, and winning by small margins but keeping clean sheets is likely to be how, if we do succeed, we get there.
We shouldn’t fear anyone in League One. Let’s roll up our sleeves, stop Peterborough from dictating the pace of the game, hurt them where we can be most effective and rob them of the three points by whichever way is necessary.
Another win tomorrow will do wonders for confidence, both in and out of the camp.
Can they do it? Of course they f**king can!