Bailey Wright opens up on Phil Parkinson's sacking, the atmosphere before his exit and why Sunderland's players feel responsible
Bailey Wright says Sunderland’s squad take some responsibility for the departure of Phil Parkinson – and insists the atmosphere behind the scenes had not turned sour prior to his dismissal.
Parkinson was sacked on Sunday afternoon after a five-game winless run in all competitions, with the Black Cats now on the hunt for their third manager since dropping into League One.
And the news of his exit came as a shock to Wright and the rest of the Sunderland squad, who had already begun their preparations for the midweek clash with Burton Albion after their stalemate at Fleetwood.
The Australian was keen to pay tribute to Parkinson following his dismissal – with the 53-year-old having brought the central defender to Wearside – and says he and the rest of the squad will take their share of the responsibility for the fact a managerial change needed to be made.
"Obviously it was a bit of surprise and shock,” said Wright.
"I enjoyed working with the gaffer, he brought me to the club and gave me an opportunity to play my football at this great club. I owe that to him really.
"I'm gutted to see him go, but for myself there's still a job to do. We've still got our goals that we've set ourselves from the start of the season, nothing changes.
"As everyone says, this is football, this is the industry and things can change that are out of our control.
"But what is in our control is what we do on the pitch and we just have to focus on that. We're in a good place, we're positive.
"Obviously we would have preferred to have won more games than we have, but we are where we are. We have to look up and head in the right direction.
"We've got to stay positive and keep doing the same things that we do, because we're putting in some great work which we've not got our rewards for. But we have to go and take them, they won't be given to us, and we know that.
“As a player, you feel responsible,” he continued.
"When a manager loses his job it's because results haven't been at the expected level of those above, so you feel partly responsible for that, of course you do.
"We have a responsibility to go and win games and we go out there to try and do that. We've got a good, honest bunch who enjoyed working with the gaffer and obviously we're disappointed to see him go.
"But we've got a job we've still got to do here and we're very much focused on that and excited about that.
"We've got massive respect for the gaffer and disappointed to see him leave, but this is the nature of the industry we're in. It's fast-paced and you just have to be ready for anything.
"So for us, as players, we're focused on our end goal and are taking each game as it comes. We just have to crack on and maintain what we're trying to do - which is get promoted.”
While Parkinson had lost large sections of the fanbase prior to his exit, the dressing room atmosphere remained strong.
And Wright has explained that while there was no shift in atmosphere or work-rate behind the scenes towards the end of Parkinson’s reign – despite the downturn in results.
"In terms of day-to-day work, day-to-day mentality, we were putting in some serious work to go and get results and we weren't quite getting them for various different reasons,” he explained.
"Some games we were extremely unlucky, and some other games we didn't quite hit our standards.
"In terms of an atmosphere, there wasn't really any change. We still believed, and we still do believe, what we're here to achieve.
"This is a tough league, there's some tough places to go and you have to show everyone respect because football can be unpredictable. No-one has a divine right to go out there and win a game, you have to go out and grab it and earn it.
"It's not easy, we know that.
"The past is the past now and we have to look forward, stay positive and look forward to the season we have ahead because we have a great opportunity for every single one of us.”
Sunderland’s hunt for a new manager will now continue ahead of Saturday’s visit of Wigan Athletic, with Andrew Taylor set to take caretaker charge if a new manager is not appointed before the weekend.
And Wright had plenty of praise for the former Middlesbrough and Bolton Wanderers defender, who has taken the running of the first-team in his stride – despite still being relatively inexperienced as a coach.
“Tayls is someone who every single one of us has massive respect for,” he said.
"He’s a good guy and he's been brilliant.
"Obviously things change so quickly and a lot of responsibility has come to him with a click of the fingers, but he's a driven, motivated type of guy - a leader - and he's stepped in to it.
"He's given us everything we needed to try and get a result. It wasn't to be, and we're gutted we couldn't quite get that result for him because it's been a tough few days and a lot of responsibility to take on.
"He's just taken it in his stride, as we all expected.”