Sunderland have endured a turbulent season on and off the pitch under the the guidance of Phil Parkinson, as they target a timely promotion back into the Championship this term.
The Black Cats struggled in the early stages of this year’s campaign, which eventually saw Jack Ross relieved of his duties, much to the delight of the majority of the Stadium of Light faithful.
Sunderland wasted no time in appointing Ross’ successor, as they moved to make Phil Parkinson as their new boss, after the 52-year-old moved on from financially-troubled Bolton Wanderers.
Parkinson certainly didn’t get off the start he would have originally hoped for, but slowly but surely, he has steadied the ship with the Black Cats, which has seen them move into contention for a top-six finish in League One.
They were beaten by Charlton Athletic last season in the League One Play-Off Final, and therefore, the minimum expectation from the club’s supporters this term will have been to win promotion from the third-tier of English football under Parkinson’s guidance.
This season has been an eventful one on and off the pitch for Sunderland, with the club’s owner Stewart Donald attempting to sell the club, although nothing has yet materialised. You would imagine that there will be concerns from sections of the Sunderland fans that Donald could walk away if the Black Cats weren’t to win a much-needed promotion back into the Championship this season.
Sunderland have a number of players that are more than capable of playing at a higher level than they’re currently at, which only heightens the need for the club to return to the second-tier at the earliest of opportunities. They’ve been somewhat of a ‘sleeping giant’ for far too long now, and they need to progress through the ranks in English football as soon as possible.
Player departures would surely be on the cards if they were to be condemned to yet another season in League One, with the likes of Max Power, Lynden Gooch and Chris Maguire impressing so far in this year’s campaign.
Have these 15 players played for both Middlesbrough and Sunderland or not? Test your knowledge in our quiz!
The Stadium of Light faithful aren’t a set of supporters that are going to sit tight and keep their opinions on the club to themselves, which is certainly a positive looking at it from a neutral’s view. Fans are the life and soul of a football club, and they’ve got every right to voice their displeasure at any events on and off the field, which they’ve already done in the past, with pressure previously on both Jack Ross and Phil Parkinson whilst they were in charge.
Sunderland have struggled to build on their impressive start 2020 in recent weeks, as they now find themselves winless in their last four league games, with a 2-0 defeat to Bristol Rovers being met with a considerable amount of criticism, and rightly so, as the players’ effort came into question.
After the EFL announced that the postponement of fixtures has been pushed further back to the 30th April due to recent events, it’s the ideal opportunity for Parkinson to look at where his side can improve when they eventually return to action heading towards the summer.
If Sunderland weren’t to win promotion back into the Championship this season, then it would be nothing short of disastrous for the club, as uncertainty and unrest would linger over the Stadium of Light heading into next year’s campaign. They have shown glimpses of their quality at times this season, but they need to show the sort of consistency that the likes of Coventry City and Rotherham United have to see them challenge for an automatic promotion place this term.
But the League One promotion race is a closely-fought battle at the moment, with Phil Parkinson’s side only being three points adrift of second-placed Rotherham, so there is still plenty to play for heading towards the conclusion of this year’s campaign.
Promotion is vital for Sunderland this season, and everyone associated with the club knows that. So, it’s time for the players to step up and repay the fans’ faith with positive performances when they return to action from the extended break.