I’ve never been an advocate of knee jerk calls to sack the manager when things are going wrong. All managers need time to bed in, get to know their squad and the ways of the club. All I can say is, that following our performance at Scunthorpe, I’m beginning to think that Phil Parkinson is not the right man for the Sunderland job and I’m beginning to think that the owners are being negligent.
Sunderland have been even more anaemic since his arrival and the bloodless show at Scunthorpe just makes one feel embarrassed to be a Sunderland supporter. The reports in a local paper, GrimsbyLive, describe Sunderland as being “Put to the sword by a team which lies 21st in league two.” The there was a comment (same paper) talking about Sunderland’s “Second abject humiliation in a week,” while another summed up, very succinctly, our performance as “disgusting.”
Looking back over our past match reports, one gets tired of reading about poor refereeing and the number of penalties we should have been awarded but weren’t. We had enough scoring chances to beat Gillingham which weren’t put away: no decent team should have to rely on penalties to get a result. It’s no use blaming poor refereeing when what we are often looking at is a poor team playing poorly. I think the club were far too hasty in moving Jack Ross on. He had a decent track record in Scotland and came close to getting us promoted last season.
Our present form and the attitude of the players and lack of any apparent expertise in the manager will make mid-table mediocrity in League One seem something like a reasonable achievement at the end of this season. Phil Parkinson is really a man from nowhere who might just take us somewhere we’d rather not be.
I used to comment on the sickness at the heart of the club in the days of Ellis Short, Margaret Byrne and another senior official whose name eludes me: and we thought they were the bad old days. At that time we had numerous players who came and went, often they’d cost us the earth to buy, but who were no good and had to be moved on at a loss. I wasn’t going to mention Jack Rodwell, but, there, I’ve just done it.
It’s worth remembering that he is said to have cost us a staggering £4,700 for every minute he was on the pitch. He’s enjoying anonymity at Blackburn these days. So, what’s so very different from the Ellis Short days? Not much, although we were struggling then, at least it was in the Premiership and Ellis Short left the club having written off its debts.
But with new owners, yet another new manager we are now struggling against the likes of Gillingham and Scunthorpe United. So, what’s to do? Try to get better owners and a better management? That’s all been tried before. Is there a solution to our plight? Can’t we learn from what happened at Bury and Bolton? We need to look at some of the once great clubs now playing in the lower leagues and see what can be learned. With Sunderland's fine ground and infrastructure we should be better placed than we are at present, but we have a drastic situation and seem to have little idea as to how to respond to it.