Phil Parkinson responds to questions over his Sunderland substitutions

Phil Parkinson insists he is not 'hiding away' from the fact that his Sunderland side need to improve.
Phil Parkinson insists that his Sunderland side will come good in the League One promotion racePhil Parkinson insists that his Sunderland side will come good in the League One promotion race
Phil Parkinson insists that his Sunderland side will come good in the League One promotion race

The Black Cats travel to Fleetwood on Friday night in need of a positive result after just two wins in their last eight games across all competitions.

Parkinson has defended his methods throughout the campaign, citing expected-goals statistics as one reason why his team can be considered automatic promotion contenders.

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He has, though, previously conceded that there are areas where improvement is required, especially in terms of shots on target.

With pressure and doubts rising, Parkinson said he recognises that his side must be more effective, particularly in the final third.

"I think there's more to come from us," he said.

"There's more to come and we've got to demand more from individuals within the team.

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"Elements of the play are good, but I don't think we can hide away from it, the dominance we've had in games has not been reflected in the goals we've scored.

"We've got to look to improve on that.

"We're aware of that, we're not hiding away from it and saying everything is fantastic and we're delighted with everything.

"We came in Monday and Steve [Parkin] and I looked at the Doncaster game, to say 'how can we make it more effective?' We changed the system slightly for the game and we were pleased with it, and at times I thought we were excellent.

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"But we should have been out of sight in the game."

While Sunderland remain within striking distance of the top two, they have slipped to eighth in the table in what all on Wearside recognises has to be a promotion season.

Parkinson said he understood the frustration with recent form.

"It's the same as other clubs I've been at, but of course it's magnified by the volume of support and people looking at everything about the club," he said.

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"Everyone in the city loves the club and passionately cares about it.

"I know what I've got do in terms of being at the top of the table for a long time in my career, with promotions and play-offs and being around.

"It's not saying, 'everything is great and we're really pleased with everything'.

"It's saying that there are elements we're pleased with, but we've got to keep improving and we've got to be more effective with elements of our play. We know that.

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"We're trying everything we can to address that and I believe we will."

One of the key criticisms that had followed the 1-1 draw with Doncaster Rovers (and indeed other games before it) was a lack of pro-active substitutions from the Black Cats dugout.

Parkinson defended that call but said he 'will always reflect' on his key decisions.

"I just felt we were so comfortable in the game, that was my feeling watching on," he said.

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"I felt we had the players on the pitch to see it through, that's how I felt. Had Remi had many saves to make, had they hit the bar, were we on the rack? We weren't, it was an isolated incident at the end of the game.

"I understand it of course, and I am my own biggest critic.

"I will always reflect on it, should have I done this, or that?"