'He gets results': Phil Parkinson's former captain has this glowing tribute amid growing Sunderland fan unrest
Ex-Bradford City captain Gary Jones has defended Phil Parkinson’s style of play - and hit back at growing calls for him to be sacked by Sunderland.
Jones, who skippered the Bantams under Parkinson, believes the 51-year-old can be the man to lead the Black Cats to promotion this term - despite Parkinson picking up just two wins so far.
Parkinson has overseen a dismal start to his Wearside reign, with eight defeats from 12 in all competitions.
And while Jones concedes Parkinson's approach can be viewed as ‘boring’ in some quarters, he believes the notion of getting out of League One by playing possession-based football is a myth.
Speaking exclusively to the Echo, Jones said: “I’ve heard people say that he should be sacked, but come on. Give him time.
“He’s got to get his point across, he’s got to get the players on board and the fans have got to give him time.
“Time in football now is very limited, as everybody knows and everyone wants results straight away.
“But he’s had 12 games, and these players need to take responsibility as well.
“You look at the players he’s got and the budget he’s got and to be 11th in League One isn’t good enough.
“The players need to look at themselves and ask if they’re doing enough - and from the outside looking in, they aren’t.
“His record shows that he does take a bit of time to get going, and with a club like that - a massive football club in Sunderland - you need a bit of stability,” continued Jones, who now works as an agent.
“Over the last few years they have chopped and changed their managers too early, from my point of view."
One of the main gripes among the Sunderland support has been Parkinson’s style of football - which has been more direct than what fans have become accustomed to.
“He’s not the type of manager to play this free-flowing football that everybody wants,” he added.
“League One is a grind week in, week out and there’s not many teams get out of that league playing fast, free-flowing football. That’s a myth, in my opinion, it very rarely happens.
“It’s a battle every week and Sunderland is everyone’s cup final which is difficult to face.
“But if he gets his own players in, who wants to work with him and who he knows, I’m sure they’ll be there or thereabouts for automatic promotion come the end of the season.
“He’s very quiet and goes about his business in a very methodical way.
“People may say his style of football is boring, but in the past it has got results.”
Jones played under Parkinson during one of the most successful spells of his managerial career, during which he led Bradford to promotion from League Two and a League Cup final while also navigating a spectacular FA Cup run.
That gave the midfielder a fine insight into how the 51-year-old look to run his squads - and what he’ll be doing behind the scenes at Sunderland as he looks to reverse a run of form which has yielded just two wins in 12.
“The thing with Phil is, he’s very particular in what he does,” explains Jones.
“He gets his teams set-up like he wants and he’s very methodical and meticulous in what he wants from his players and what he expects from them.
“He gets results and is proven at that level. He did a fantastic job at Bolton last year under very difficult circumstances and I see a sort of resemblance with the job he has taken on at Sunderland.
“With the squad they have, to be sitting 11th in League One isn’t good enough.
“His teams are always fit and he has a great fitness coach in Nick Allamby.
“He wants his teams to be hard to beat and obviously that hasn’t been the case in recent weeks, but give the man time.
“But we’re a third through the season and there’s a transfer window coming up, so you have to give the man time.”
That transfer window alluded to by Jones now looks to be key for Parkinson, who will be keen to bring in players willing to reflect his desired style of play.
And the 42-year-old has a clear idea of the players the Sunderland boss will be looking to bring to the Stadium of Light.
“I think it’s vitally important,” said Jones of the transfer window.
“When the opportunity comes, every manager wants to bring their own players in.
“I think he’ll want to bring in players who know the league, who have a bit of experience and who are going to put their bodies on the line and show the fans what it means to wear the Sunderland shirt.
“That’s what all fans want to see; they want to see hard work.
“You need players in who know the league and who will work their socks off for the fans, because they pay money to come and watch Sunderland get results.”
And with Parkinson coming under increasing pressure from fans after defeat at Gillingham, Jones had a final message for the Sunderland faithful.
“Give the man time. Give him the January window.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say, and I know that everyone wants results now because that’s how football is.
“But he’s had 12 games, and we’re not even at Christmas yet.”