They key hints and revelations from Phil Parkinson's first day as Sunderland boss

Phil Parkinson outlined his key goals and intentions as Sunderland boss on Thursday afternoon.

Friday, 18th October 2019, 12:45 pm
Updated Friday, 18th October 2019, 12:45 pm

So what are the key things we learned from the new manager’s opening press conference?

Here’s a closer look….


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New Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson

Phil Parkinson confirmed that in his first interview, the club began by giving a 25-minute introduction into the journey so far under Stewart Donald, where it was at now and where it intended to go.

As the process developed, Parkinson naturally sought clarity on the continued talks regarding potential investment in the club.

He said the discussion was very ‘open and frank’.

“Obviously it’s something that’s going to be mentioned in the process,” he said.

“I was happy with what I got told, the board want me to concentrate on the football and they’re going to continue with the progress that they’re making.

“I got the answers [I needed].”

Parkinson was assured that regardless of the outcome of those talks, the leadership at the club will not change and therefore his position will not be affected.

Donald said last week that he remains ‘very hopeful’ investment will be agreed, with talks ongoing.

It seems clear now, though, that Donald will remain in day-to-day control of the club even if a deal is concluded.

From the outset, he was clear that this was his preference, but admitted that potential investors may not want to sign up for that arrangement.

Wearside now waits to see whether that is the case, or whether a deal is on the cards that sees the members of MSD Partners take some shareholding in the club.

Parkinson is content regardless, clear that he felt assured that the club is in a good position off the pitch.


Parkinson candidly admitted that after all the off-field struggles at Bolton Wanderers, he and assistant Steve Parkin were looking forward to working in an environment where they could focus on the football.

Of course, that may prove to be easier said than done given the ongoing talks mentioned above.

Still, it was made clear to Parkinson that the board wanted him to focus on the playing side.

And the announcement that he signed a two-and-a-half year deal made clear that this is not just about promotion or bust this season.

Parkinson clearly made an impression during the interview process and says he wants to play a role in the longer development of the football operations of the club.

“I want to play my part in building the club on the playing side,” he said.

“I’m confident that I’ve got the knowledge to do that.

“The aim obviously is to be right up there at the end of the season and then take it forward from there.”

Donald had stressed this appointment was about getting out of League One, but there are evidently plans beyond that and it will be interesting to see how they unfold.


Phil Parkinson stressed that it would be his job to get an extra 10-15% from a squad that was ‘very unlucky’ last season.

He feels he has a good squad with a lot of talent, but there are clearly some reservations and the potential to add reinforcements in January was discussed as part of the talks that saw Parkinson land the job.

‘We’re a decent squad, I don’t think we’re the finished article,” he said.

“What I mean by that is, in terms of the balance of the way we’re playing, we’ve got to address that.

“We’ll assess everything everything until January.

“My job is to say the answers are within what we’ve got, if by January they’re not then I’m sure the board will do their best to help us.”


Despite a general improvement in defensive performances, a lack of a league clean sheet was a source of deep frustration for Sunderland.

That’s a key task for Parkinson to solve and he was clear that it will be a focus.

There have been some reservations about his preferred style of play but he insited that first and foremost, he is a pragmatist who will play in a manner that suits the options he has.

“In my managerial career, I’ve managed a lot of teams and played a lot of different styles,” he said.

“Sometimes I find the mistake of a manager is to go into a club and try to impact what you want to do when you haven’t got the players to do it.

“Sunderland have got technical players who can pass the ball. That’s what I want to do.”

His comments about the balance in the way Sunderland are playing were telling, though.

It is clear he has identified a vulnerability that he wants to see addressed.

“Without the ball, we have got to be better,” he said.

“We’ve got to make sure that when we’re attacking, when we lose possession, we don’t look vulnerable and like we’re going to concede.

“The top teams in any league, in any league, will be the best team at doing both sides of the game.”


Parkinson said it was ‘imperative’ that he could bring Steve Parkin with him as assistant.

Parkin worked alongside him at both Bradford City and Bolton Wanderers.

That meant that James Fowler, who led the team superbly after the sudden departure of Jack Ross, has now left the club.

However, John Potter and Craig Samson, brought to the club as first team coach and goalkeeper coach respectively by Jack Ross, remain in place.

Parkinson said he would ‘take stock’ of the situation before deciding on any further changes.

Nick Allamby and Lee Butler are two staff members who also worked with him at both Bradford and Bolton.