Malcolm Dawson writes…….As I was tucking into my porridge and blueberries this morning, I received an e-mail from Pete Sixsmith with the title “Parkinson” so assumed that the club had confirmed we had a new manager in place. I then went to the News Now webpage to find these headlines:
10:06 SAFC Official website: SAFC appoint Phil Parkinson
10:10 Chronicle Live: Is Jack Ross still available? – Sunderland fans react to Phil Parkinson appointment
It doesn’t take long for those who think they know best to respond on social media and I suppose there will always be some who have a totally negative outlook on life, but I get increasingly frustrated by so called news sites which seem to think people’s Tweets are newsworthy. How many of these people who already have the knives out for the new boss and the owner thought that Martin O’Neill would bring us success because he was a Sunderland fan as a boy, or that Nigel Clough would rocket us into the Premier League because his dad won the European Cup and he was born in what was then the town of Sunderland?
If I am starting to get disillusioned with the club under Stewart Donald’s tenure it is not because we failed to get promotion, it is not because we have been going to places like Accrington, Fleetwood or Rochdale which are proper clubs with devoted supporters. Nor is it because we drew 19 games last season but because of a minority of loud, very vocal and not very pleasant band of followers (I refuse to refer to them as supporters) who seem to enjoy putting the club down at every opportunity, venting their spleen at players who give of their best (even unused substitutes) when we don’t win by a massive margin, or take to social media at the earliest opportunity to show their ability in the use of four letter words, occasionally adding the letter E to one just for variety.
Will the new man get us promoted? I’ve no idea.
Will he do a better job than Jack Ross? Time will tell.
Will I enjoy watching the side more than I did under the last man? I’ll wait and see.
What I won’t do is jump to conclusions before he’s even had PP printed onto his training gear – oh and I’ll continue to be a supporter.
Now what you’ve really come here to read ……..Sixer’s reaction to the latest manager to take on the Wearside hot seat.
PARKY TAKES THE HOT SEAT.
It’s 140 years to the day since James Allan and a group of friends and colleagues met in The Norfolk Hotel to found what would become Sunderland AFC.
In those dim and distant days when the majority of the city’s population worked in shipyards, coal mines or heavy engineering and lived in the tightly packed terraces that led down to the banks of the River Wear (and later, to the shores of Sicileeee), I imagine there were broadsheets being printed where dissenting supporters accused Allan of setting the club up so he could sell it at a profit to Hiram B, Shackernacker from Poughkeepsie, New York while simultaneously lambasting Mr. Ross, the Maths teacher from Hudson Road School, for “stealing a living” and being “s****.”
It’s also a tad over fourteen years since I wrote my first match report for Salut, a missive from Ashburton Grove describing a 2-3 defeat to Arsenal in Roy Keane’s inaugural Premier League season, a game that showed a fair bit of promise for the future as the Jolly Drumaville boys, aided by Niall Quinn and the admirable John Hays, promised all kinds of things including magic carpets, stability and a permanent place at the top table.
Our team that day was; Craig Gordon; Paul McShane, Nyron Nosworthy, Danny Collins, Danny Higginbotham; Grant Leadbitter, Dwight Yorke, Liam Miller, Ross Wallace; Kenwyne Jones, Michael Chopra with subs; Darren Ward, Ian Harte (for Yorke 90), Dickson Etuhu (for Wallace 77), Anthony Stokes (for Chopra 77) Roy O’Donovan.
It was a 12.00 kick off which meant leaving at about 5 and getting there in time for a quick pint and a snack and a wander round the new ground. Van Persie and Senderos gave them the lead before Ross Wallace (now at Fleetwood Town – good guy, decent player, not s****) pulled one back before half time. Kenwynne Jones (fine player on his day, also not s****) levelled early in the second half and it looked like we would hold on. Two substitutions made in the 77th minute may have distracted us as Van Persie scored the winner with ten to go.
Now, 14 years on, we are heading for Adams Park with a team of players who are no more than Championship level at best and a new manager in charge – unless the DUP veto this.
We have fallen a long way and there may be little chance of us getting back to where Charlie Chalke and Roy Keane took us all those years ago.
Phil Parkinson is the man given the opportunity to improve on Jack Ross’ record and get us out of League One to the relative prosperity of the Championship. He’s a Chorley born man who started out at Bury and then moved to Reading where he spent ten years and qualified for a testimonial. He also became a close buddy of Alan Pardew, so there’s a stick to beat him with already.
When he stopped playing, he became manager of Colchester United and took them to the Championship before leaving for Hull City and an uncomfortable stretch at Anlaby Circle. He was in charge of them when Ross Wallace scored a last minute winner in front of us, took his shirt off and was sent to the dressing rooms by an unsmiling Richard Beeby.
He then moved to Charlton Athletic and managed to get them relegated to League One, thereby undoing his good work at Colchester and although he stayed there for three years, he couldn’t get them back up and was sacked.
Back to Yorkshire for his next job at a struggling Bradford City and he struck gold. He took them to Wembley for a League Cup Final (don’t ask about the result) and then again for a play off victory over Northampton Town before establishing them in League One. He had John McLaughlin as his goalkeeper and was in charge of The Bantams when they put us out of the FA Cup in 2015 when our team had Wearside legends like Billy Jones, Ricardo Alvarez and Liam Bridcutt on the field.
He left Bradford a steady League One club and moved back across the Pennines to Bolton, who had just been relegated to League One as their financial troubles began to grow. He got them back up at the first attempt, despite an EFL transfer embargo which prevented him from recruiting anything but loan players and free agents and then miraculously kept them up the next season as well, taking four points off us and being in the away dugout for Simon Grayson’s last game as Sunderland manager.
The troubles at Horwich clearly wore him down and he resigned after it looked as if Bolton were going to drop out of the EFL – and I don’t think anyone could blame him for that.
He now finds himself at another club riven with self doubt and with divisions between supporters, owners and players clearly on view. Should he read this (I assume he won’t) I would advise him to permanently block the message boards, not listen to any phone ins (even the ones that use me) and avoid social media. I’m pretty sure that he will do all three as a matter of course.
I wish him well and hope that he makes a success of this job even if his football style appears to be more pragmatic than romantic. We desperately need to finish this season with 21 or 22 clubs below us and a season that ends on the first weekend in May with a visit from The Demon King and his Fleetwood Town team (assuming he is not in jail by then).
No report from me from Wycombe.
I am having a weekend in Prague and hope to get some football in. Slavia and Bohemians are at home and there is an intriguing Second Division game at Vysherad which kicks off at 9.15 on Sunday morning. I’ll see how I feel after a night of Czech beer and Czech dumplings.