More On Parkinson

It turns out that Phil Parkinson knows a little more about the North East than we initially thought. “I was brought up in Stockton-on-Tees despite my accent. I am fully aware of the passion for North-East football. I came to see Sunderland at times, Middlesbrough as well. I loved the passion because it is different up here. People absolutely live for their football and I get what this club means to the city of Sunderland. In the year we stayed up at Bolton, and Sunderland went down (2017-18), I think we came here and drew 3-3. That was the night when Simon Grayson left. When Chris Coleman was in charge, we won a tight game 1-0 too. That was a typical example of getting over the dividing line between drawing and winning, a classic example.”

He was also once targeted by Sunderland as a young lad. “The only game I talked about today with everyone that I went to was when I was a kid and came up to Sunderland,” said Parkinson. “I was invited up by then manager Ken Knighton. It was to watch Sunderland versus Luton and John Cooke scored the winning goal – he is now the kit man. I have bumped into him a few times since and told him that story before. I was 13-14 at the time and was invited up as a boy to have talks, as you do as a schoolboy. It was an amazing day. John Cooke was the hero of the day. When I was a kid based in the North-East you would go to train at a lot of clubs. I lived down south a lot before I moved up north and then went back down south for my football career. I already had a southern accent. When I moved up north people called me a southerner and when I moved down south I was called a northerner. I just say I am English.”

Parkinson brings with him his assistant Steve Parkin. Parkinson said: “This is an attractive job and why people want to become Sunderland manager. The club is stronger off the pitch than it has been for a while and on the pitch, there are some very good players. I think it’s a good time to take the job, I really do. I don’t look at it as the finished article, but that’s my job to make it where people look at us and say, ‘yeah, that’s a real team’ and one people can say can get in the top two. I’ve got to find the answers to the questions and I’m confident that I will. I think first and foremost, North-East football fans want to see effort. Of course, you need skill, but the first requirement is effort. I said to the players that when the fans drive away from the stadium, whether it’s home or away, I want them to say, ‘those boys had a real go today’. You might lose a game or you might have a decision go against you, but I want supporters to drive away feeling they couldn’t have asked anymore from the players.”