Wise Men Say: There's a long way to go but Phil Parkinson deserves credit for turning his Sunderland fortunes around

Four weeks ago, Phil Parkinson’s role as manager was untenable.

Monday, 13th January 2020, 10:10 am

Defeats to Gillingham, twice, Burton Albion, Leicester City’s kids and Scunthorpe United had Sunderland at its lowest ebb. There was no way back.

Even on Boxing Day, where exiles and one-offers slide through the Stadium of Light turnstiles to watch the Lads, typically bringing with them a wave of fresh-faced buoyancy, it was flat.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Sunderland players celebrate.

Comparisons were made to just 12 months prior, where record attendances were set, and Jack Ross had us marching towards promotion.

We all know how that story ended, and until a few weeks ago, it seemed as though Sunderland were, once again, hurtling towards failure.

But as the decade came to a close, something changed. A team out of sorts and on the cusp of being dragged into a relegation battle showed what had been missing.

It was the perfect storm. Backed by around 4,000 away fans, Sunderland’s 2-1 win at Doncaster Rovers injected some much-needed fuel into Parkinson’s stalling engine.

However, after the 1-1 draw with Fleetwood Town, it seemed as though it could have been another false promise. Much like the 5-0 romp over Tranmere Rovers earlier in the campaign proved to be.

In the immediate aftermath of the draw I was furious, more so with the reaction. How could Sunderland see taking a point at Fleetwood Town a positive?

It was never meant arrogantly, more fuelled by ambition. But after there was time for consideration, I understood it.

And it rolled on to both Lincoln City and Saturday’s victory over Wycombe Wanderers. Lincoln were bad, there’s no denying that. But Wycombe aren’t a poor side. Yet Parkinson’s men made them look one.

So, has the perception of Parkinson changed? Not yet, but it’s getting there.

His role is no longer under immediate threat, but let’s not get too carried away.

He’s recovered the ground lost during the early stages of his tenure, and for that he should be commended. But there’s still a long way to go.

Despite what some believe, no one wanted Parkinson to fail.

And if he succeeds, there’ll be many, including me, who’ll happily admit they were wrong.