Sunderland fell to a 1-0 loss away to Wycombe in new manager Phil Parkinson’s first game in charge.
Prior to this game, Sunderland had appointed ex-Bolton manager Phil Parkinson on a two-and-a-half-year deal. The Black Cats came into this game in a mixed run of form, not beating any team in the top half of the table all season, but had the chance to gain a march on a Wycombe side who sat in the automatic promotion places.
Wycombe took the lead in the 28th minute thanks to a powerful strike from Darius Charles following a brief scramble from a set-piece dropping the ball to the centre-half 12 yards out. Sunderland didn’t have many chances to gain a point in the end with Aiden McGeady’s late strike being tipped onto the crossbar being the most notable.
Here, we take a look at three things we learnt about Sunderland after Saturday’s loss to Wycombe…
The Parkinson-effect will take time
With any new manager, it will take time for his ideas and management style to take full-effect on the players. This was the case for Sunderland who struggled to gain control against Wycombe, who granted were in fine form coming into the fixture and at home.
It can definitely be said about Sunderland though that they managed to stay in the game against a top side in the league and would have snatched a late draw, had it not been for a top save from Allsop to deny McGeady’s late curling effort.
Patience will be required with Parkinson and his players, given his record it should be expected though that he can get more out of these players than we have seen recently.
Grigg and McNulty will need to step up
During the loss to Wycombe, Sunderland were dealt an injury blow with Charlie Wyke being withdrawn at half time, after suffering a twisted ankle in the 25th minute.
Wyke was replaced by Will Grigg at half time followed by the introduction of Marc McNulty later in the game in place of holding-midfielder Grant Leadbitter. Wyke faces a spell on the sidelines as he sustained ankle ligament damage in the injury which forced him off.
With Parkinson’s seemingly first-choice striker being unavailable for the foreseeable future, it would seem like the time for the two substitutes to make their mark and stake a claim to start going forward. Grigg and McNulty would have to operate under different tactical instruction due to the mismatch in physicality between the pair and Wyke.
They need to turnaround form soon
Despite only being two points off the play-off places, there is a gap emerging between Sunderland and the automatic promotion places, with Wycombe’s win extending the gap to seven points.
Sunderland have three fixtures in a row now that the squad and Parkinson will be hoping to gain at least seven points from, as they face Tranmere (home), Shrewsbury (away), then Southend (home). If Sunderland struggle in these fixtures, fans will probably lose all confidence of trying to catch the top two this season.
Sunderland are unbeaten at home this season and will look to build on this on Tuesday night against newly-promoted Tranmere, which should kickstart Phil Parkinson’s reign and see the Black Cats get a run of form together.