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Writer Predictions 2020/21 (Part 2): Will Parky last the whole season as Sunderland manager?!

Who will be the pick of the new signings? And, will Phil Parkinson last the full season as Sunderland manager? Join us in the second part of our gaze into the future in the Roker Report writers season predictions!

Shrewsbury Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

Who will be the pick of the new signings?

Phil West says...

We haven’t exactly set the world alight with our transfer business thus far, so at the moment, it’s Aiden O’Brien.

Hopefully other players will arrive soon, including Arbenit Xhemajli, who I hope will be a shrewd addition, and we’ve seen glimpses of what Bailey Wright is capable of last season.

O’Brien arrived with a decent reputation from Millwall, and hopefully his presence will both inspire and relieve the pressure on the likes of Gooch and Maguire. He adds depth to our forward line, and God knows, we need as much of that as we can get at this moment in time.

Martin Wanless says...

I’ve been pretty underwhelmed with the business so far (acknowledging, however, that the arrival of this Kosovan chap looks like he could mark a new era in recruitment for the club).

I know little about O’Brien, and the prospect of him turning into a prolific striker when he’s never been one before is a little hopeful. Matthews may prove decent cover for Burge, nothing more.

Obviously the stand-out is Bailey Wright – a good character as well as a good player – and he’s the pick of the bunch, by a long shot.

Ian Bendelow says...

Well aside from my glowing appraisal of Bailey Wright, it has to be Aiden O’Brien.

Simply because competition for places is good. It will mean that Maguire and Gooch cannot just expect to start every week regardless of form or attitude (I’m talking to you, Chris).

Sadly O’Brien doesn’t scream pace which is what the team sorely needs, but he has the attributes to make a big impact in League One. A constant theme throughout our two-ish seasons at this level is that doing something slightly out of the ordinary can unlock third-tier defences, which we saw McGeady do regularly. So some of that please, Mr O’Brien.

Sunderland v Carlisle : Pre-Season Friendly
Aiden O’Brien
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says...

As it stands, I don’t think any of the new signings threaten to bring any marked improvement to the squad.

Inevitably the ‘stand out’ of the new signings won’t be a case of “who is the best” and more of “who is the least shit of them so far”. Unless something dramatic happens, and we do sign someone decent, until then, for the sake of answering I’ll say the Aussie Prince.

Malcolm Dugdale says...

I was pleased with the sadness aired by Millwall fans at the O’Brien exit, but he hasn’t really shown what they have lost in the friendly games thus far for me, but he’s been solid enough, so no big complaints.

I’m hoping we sign Arby, and he can become the third really robust defender with Wright, (a definite plus if kept fit) and Willis. If that happens we may well see Phil’s usual tactics of winning games by a goal to nil and help us climb the league. Add to that a little more contribution from the front line, and who knows what could happen.

So Wright or Arby, whoever helps us shut the door will make a huge difference and be a key signing.

Tranmere Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Bailey Wright
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Will Phil Parkinson last the full season as Sunderland manager?

Phil West says...

I don’t believe he will, although I do believe he should be given a chance.

At the moment, Parkinson is walking a tightrope, and a perfect storm is brewing. Fan unrest, a less-than-brilliant squad, the spectre of Aiden McGeady, and an extremely unclear ownership situation are all problems currently stacked up outside Parkinson’s door.

If we don’t start the season in superb form, and string together a winning run from the first game, the pressure will surely tell. I can see a carbon copy of last season unfolding. A slow start, off the pace by October, and Parkinson potentially out of the door before the pumpkin lanterns are being carved.

His margin for error, tactical and selection-wise, as well as in terms of results, is absolutely miniscule.

Martin Wanless says...

Will Phil Parkinson last the full season? I sincerely hope so because we’re crying out for stability, as if he does it should mean we’ve got promoted. However, I have my doubts.

He wasn’t my choice as manager – in fact, he wouldn’t have been anywhere near the list – and there’s no need to spend too long revisiting the shockingly bad start to his SAFC career.

He was lucky to keep his job after the Bolton game – to be honest if it hadn’t been for the ‘Donald out’ stuff in the immediate aftermath, I suspect he might have gone. But he’s here, and to be fair to him the team played some of the best football for four years under him during January.

For the first time in a long while, we saw a SAFC team with a plan and an identifiable formation, and that’s a positive for me. For Parkinson, everything depends on him getting off to a good start, and what happens with regard to any takeover.

Ian Bendelow says...

Yes, unless there is a takeover or things go very badly wrong, very quickly.

Which to be fair they might, but unless there is something written into his contract about compensation or lack thereof, it is very difficult to see Stewart Donald and co. shelling out the necessary cash to relieve him of his duties. He still has two years left on his deal so that would be a bitter cheque for the board to write.

If a takeover does happen, it really is a lottery. It would depend on a number of factors we just cannot predict right now - who the owners are, where we were in the league at the time, what plans they had and so on.

Sunderland v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League One
Phil Parkinson
Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says...

You’ve as much chance of me winning the lottery as you have Phil Parkinson lasting the season - and I don’t even put it on.

Comfortably in the top 3 of the worst managers we’ve ever had and spared from his failings thanks to a global pandemic, it bewilders me he’s even in charge at this point. If a shoddy start won’t see Parkinson off, the signing and inevitable failure of Danny Graham will soon have him seen off.

I’ve seen nor heard anything in pre-season to convince me otherwise of what is an impending shitshow of a season. All aboard the fun bus.

Malcolm Dugdale says...

My view is he has to have us in the top 3 by Christmas to keep his job. Anything less, and he is no better than Ross, who many say should have had longer.

If he does that, Phil will stay, and will probably take us up. We cannot expect another run like last January to happen too often, and we really don’t need to re-see what came before that.

We need the SOL to be a rocking fortress, more draws turned to wins, and scruffy losses turned to draws worst case, and we will have the PPG improvements towards the magic 2-2.5. Phil needs to show us he has the tools to do the job, so give us top 3 on Boxing Day and another 45k will sing carols for you Phil, I guarantee you that.

Sunderland v Harrogate Town - Pre-Season Friendly
Sunderland celebrating a goal against Harrogate Town in a pre-season friendly
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

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