Reaction to Sunderland team news a sign of the intense pressure on Phil Parkinson to win promotion

Phil Parkinson is all too aware of how high the pressure to deliver at Sunderland is this season.

Sunday, 20th September 2020, 5:00 pm

An experienced manager, Parkinson knew when he was appointed that promotion is all that counts.

Sunderland fell short last season, not helped of course by the suspension of the league campaign but they were by no means certain play-off contenders anyway.

Now in their third season in the third tier, the pressure has cranked up a further few notches.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A strong start is key and dropping two points at home on the opening day was disappointing, adding further pressure on the trip to Oxford United.

A sign of the pressure on Parkinson came on social media when the team news landed. While social media doesn't represent the full views of the fanbase it does help gauge the mood among supporters.

And the decision to start Grant Leadbitter instead of Josh Scowen for the suspended George Dobson did not go down well. At all. There were also question marks over the decision to drop Will Grigg for Danny Graham and concern over the lack of youngsters on the bench, Dan Neil and Jack Diamond still waiting for their opportunity.

With strong competition and a lack of injuries, Neil and Diamond may have to wait a little longer.

Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson.

The decision to start Leadbitter was a bold one but Parkinson was confident he would help bring control and ultimately that call proved correct, Sunderland running out 2-0 winners thanks to a much-improved second half.

Every decision Parkinson makes will be under intense scrutiny. There is little room for error with League One set to be even more competitive than last year.

Ipswich Town, Lincoln City and Hull City setting the early pace.

It's a marathon not a sprint as everyone will keep telling you but that doesn't lessen the pressure on Parkinson, who knows Sunderland must enjoy a strong start over the opening 10 games.

There will be little patience should Sunderland's form stutter given the high pressure on promotion. Another campaign in the fourth tier is unthinkable.

Parkinson remains confident he has what it takes to lead the club to promotion. There is little room for error.

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Hi, our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative coverage of YOUR club every single day, home and away, 365 days a year.

This depth of SAFC coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to from the football team at the Sunderland Echo, please consider taking out a subscription to our new discounted sports-only package.

You'll find all the details at sunderlandecho.com/subscriptions/sports.

Your support is much appreciated.

Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor