2020 as a year is almost unforgettable for any person who lived through such a turbulent time around the world. The entire world was essentially paralysed by the Covid-19 pandemic stopping all the joys that life brings.
In the world of Sunderland AFC, it was just as tumultuous for the fans of the football club. Still languishing in League One, the initial enthusiasm and warmth that gravitated around the ownership team of Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven was certainly beginning to wane.
On this day in 2020, a substantial amount of change was underway at Wearside. Manager Phil Parkinson was dismissed from his job just 24 hours previous after a sluggish start to the season.
Sitting in 8th place, the team weren’t losing many games but their performances and general style of play weren’t particularly appetising. Parkinson’s apparent hesitancy to let the proverbial handbrake down saw Sunderland stutter to victories against teams whom we simply should be beating easily.
Defeats to MK Dons and draws against Doncaster and Fleetwood Town were the final straw for Parkinson who didn’t last particularly long in the job with a short statement from the club lacking much affection towards their previous manager.
The club would like to place on record its thanks to both Phil and Steve for their efforts during their time at SAFC. Preparations for Tuesday’s Sky Bet League One fixture against Burton will resume on Monday, with first-team coach Andrew Taylor taking charge of the squad. The board will now begin the search for a new manager and will make no further comment until this process is completed.
With the manager sacked, reports on this day in 2020 suggested that the club were moving swiftly to appoint a new candidate. Rumours linking the club with former manager Gus Poyet along with Lee Johnson were rampant.
However, on this day, the Northern Echo ran a story suggesting that former Wigan Athletic manager Paul Cook was the favourite to take over. After a successful spell leading to promotion with Wigan, his status was still quite high.
Despite not getting the job after being shortlisted when Jack Ross eventually got the job, the newspaper suggested that his popularity amongst Sunderland stakeholders was still quite high.
That new boss could turn out to be Cook, whose most recent managerial post was ironically at Wigan. The 53-year-old led the Latics to the League One title during his three-year spell at the DW Stadium, but stepped down when Wigan’s financial problems resulted in them entering administration in July.
He was on the three-man shortlist that was assembled when Jack Ross was dismissed as Sunderland manager last autumn, and while he was passed over for Parkinson a little over a year ago, he still has his supporters among the Black Cats’ powerbrokers.
Along with the club searching for a new manager, the same newspaper article suggested that the club may be close to new ownership. French-Swiss heir Kyril Louis-Dreyfus was close to purchasing a majority stake in the club which certainly influence the identity of our new manager.
The dynamics of Sunderland’s latest managerial search are interesting as current owner Stewart Donald and former board member Charlie Methven are understood to be having an input into the selection process, even though Juan Sartori and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus hope to complete their takeover within a matter of days.
In many ways, this final day of November in 2020 was an extremely positive day. Few owners and managers divided opinions less than Donald, Methven and Parkinson. Their identities will always be connected to one of the most depressing times supporting this football club and their departures were certainly not one that devastated many.