How will Phil Parkinson approach the two opening cup fixtures?
I’d treat them like pre-season games.
Let’s be honest - we aren’t going to win the League Cup, are we, so chalk that Hull game off for starters. I mean, winning does become a habit and managing a victory over a club I class as a promotion rival would be a huge ego boost, but surely it makes sense to use this game as another tester ahead of League One action. Parkinson has yet to actually field his strongest side for a full game, and he has the chance to do just that here.
Alternatively, Dan Neil and Will Grigg have quite literally forced themselves to the forefront of everyone’s minds and that’s got to be considered. Neil especially - this lad has earned a start, whether we take this game seriously or not. Why not give him that chance in one of or both of these next two games? I guess you could make a bigger case for his inclusion in the EFL Trophy game against Aston Villa U21s, but I’d be excited to see what he’s capable of against a strong Hull side. He’s linked up brilliantly with Will Grigg in particular, so why not?
Progression in both of these competitions is ultimately unimportant - Sunderland MUST get promoted. Therefore, I don’t think we can afford to take these next two cup ties too seriously when we have such a tough start in the league.
Malcolm Dugdale says...
As I’ve said in other articles lately, I would very much welcome cup games, and indeed a number of league games for the first couple of months being used to prove our options with respect to formation, cross cover for positions and options in general.
If we use a couple of cup games and 5-6 suitable league games to hone our options and abilities, we will still have 40 plus matches to achieve what we all need.
We don’t have to try things out with all opponents, as losing ground on some of our closest challengers is never a good idea, but as I’ve said this league is a marathon and at times it feels like an ultra one. For once let’s get the foundations down well, back some of these emerging positive options and let’s smash the long race not the short one
Chris Wynn says...
It’s a tough one for Phil Parkinson, I’m sure he will be tempted to continue experimenting and improve match fitness across the squad, but he’s under huge pressure to hit the ground running.
With morale among the fans as low as it is, two defeats at the beginning of the season wouldn’t create the best atmosphere to begin our League One campaign at home to Bristol Rovers on the 12th September.
This is where the lack of crowds might actually play a part as Parkinson would undoubtedly have wanted a big atmosphere in that opening League One game against Bristol Rovers at the Stadium of Light, and nothing would have done more to encourage that than victories over Hull City and Aston Villa U21’s.
As we’re facing a situation where fans will not be present on the opening day, Phil Parkinson has more control over the pressure placed on the squad, and prior results may not have as much impact.
However, I have a feeling that he will treat the build up and game against Hull City in the Carabao Cup as a typical League One game, and we may see what is likely to be our shape and line-up for the season ahead under Phil Parkinson. The EFL Trophy I think we’ll see a side that is changed to the limit that the rules allow.
I’m going with the view that for Phil Parkinson the season starts on Saturday.