Wise Men Say: Phil Parkinson is well on his way to masterminding an incredible turnaround - but the toughest tests lie ahead

Another Saturday, another convincing win.

Monday, 24th February 2020, 7:00 pm

Who are these imposters and what have they done with Sunderland AFC?

The efficiency, confidence and professionalism with which all comers are being dispatched at present is actually slightly disconcerting.

It’s so unlike everything we’ve been conditioned to expect that at times I don’t actually know how to process what’s happening in front of my eyes – it’s weird, but I like it.

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The Sunderland players celebrate the win against Bristol Rovers.

Saturday’s victory over Bristol Rovers was, at the risk of sounding clichéd, exactly what a top team in any league has to be able to do – win whilst neither playing particularly well nor looking in any kind of trouble.

Sunderland are finally starting to make winning look routine, expected, maybe even *whisper it* a little easy? Without doubt, The Gas came for a point which given the current circumstances was both expected and understandable.

They defended doggedly, but were very limited going forward – even before they went down to 10 men on 59 minutes you could sense the pressure was building and a Sunderland goal was well on the way.

If that red card was the final heavy item on the camel’s back of Rovers’ afternoon, then Lynden Gooch’s expert finish for Sunderland’s first ten minutes later was the straw that broke it.

Two more goals followed. With that it was transformation complete – a tough afternoon suddenly looked a routine win.

To keep the clichés coming however, the hard work really only starts now.

Our run of nine wins and one defeat in our last 14 has provided the perfect foundations for a return to the Championship, but there’s a lot still to do to get there.

Tuesday sees us play our remaining game in hand on most against a strong Fleetwood side with play-off aspirations of their own and Joey ‘Joseph’ Barton in the dugout.

Following this is a trip to Birmingham City’s St Andrew's to play automatic promotion chasers - and lovers of all things SAFC - Coventry City.

Parkinson is well on his way to masterminding an incredible turnaround, but the toughest tests are yet to come. Levels simply must be maintained.