Continuing our pundit series counting down to the start of the League Two season, Width of a Post writers share their views on Phil Parkinson.
What have you made of Phil Parkinson’s summer transfer business?
Astute. I am constantly surprised and annoyed about so called ‘City fans’ that troll the T&A website who seem to panic as soon as transfers don’t start immediately and worrying that the likes of Rotherham and Fleetwood are throwing around their cash left right and centre to sign any Jonny come lately who fancies himself as a Championship player. To those people I would simply point them towards the times we did this; Doherty, McClaren etc and look how far they got us!
Parkinson has been very clever in the window and chosen players who appear to want to wear the shirt and have good experience at this level (McCardle, Connell and Thompson). Darby and Meredith appear to have a willingness to push forward and add to the attacking options we have. The man mountain Davies; nothing more needs to be said! Mixed with the contract extension of Oliver, Wells wanting to stay for the foreseeable future, Baker with a contract to prove he deserves and I think he’s made some good signings with one or two maybe more to come.
Impressive. I’ve been vocal in my criticism in certain areas of the recruitment process (the David Syers decision in particular), but looking at the arrivals as a collective, I’m impressed with the calibre of player Phil Parkinson has attracted to the club, and the philosophical decisions he’s made in his squad building. When my only reservations come from my own ideological biases and anxieties about the sustainable financing of the club, it is hard to present a coherent argument against what has happened this summer.
On the whole, I think that we have brought in some very good individuals. Players that we were wanted by many clubs, some of which were in a higher division than us – Rory McArdle being a good example, who I am led to believe was very close to joining Shrewsbury before he chose VP. The defence has been the main area of recruitment so far with Andrew Davies, James Meredith, Nathan Doyle and Stephen Darby also joining the club.
In midfield, the arrival of Gary Jones is a very good move in my eyes – a player who knows this league inside out; he showed that despite his advancing years, he’s still got it, when he ran the show from midfield during out cup game against Rochdale last season. The problem here is that Parkinson himself has admitted that he has brought Jones in to replace the departing David Syers. This leads me to ask the question; How often was Syers a starter for City last season?
On the wings, Will Atkinson has a lot to prove based on his performances whilst on loan last year. Anyone that remembers him playing in the Rochdale side that tore City apart a couple of years ago, knows that he has talent but it has so far been sadly lacking in a City shirt and I would be disappointed to see him in the starting XI from the off. I am hoping that Garry Thompson has been brought in to play right wing. I have been disappointed to hear talk of him being played as a striker as I always remember him as a tricky winger with a great cross from his time at Morecambe.
Upfront, Alan Connell looks like a good addition – rated highly by Swindon fans, I have been told that he has a habit of coming off the bench and grabbing a goal against a tiring defence because his work rate is first class and he doesn’t give opponents a minute’s peace.
I would like to think that, in Hanson and Wells, we might already have the best strike force in the division, and that given better service from the midfield and both wings, they could both hit at least 15 each next season. That, when combined with an up lift in goals that will be needed from the rest of the team, should see us being always threatens in front of goal.
Overall, some good solid signings have been made, in what seems a very considered manner. The signings contain a good mix of experience and youth and there seems to be a good amount of pace throughout the team. I think we will have a better balance in the side, more attacking to address the low number of goals and laboured away performances, whilst retaining the solid defensive core that saw us concede a relatively low number of goals.
Very impressed! I have a number of disagreements with Parkinson’s management so far, I think his treatment of Jones and Branston last season was very poor and I also think we could have kept Syers if we had pushed harder, earlier and made him feel more wanted. On the other hand, he appears to have got Jones back on side, and Davies would not have come back if he didn’t have faith in the manager.
Add to that the signings of Gary Jones, McArdle, and Thompson who are all proven players, as well as Meredith, Darby, Doyle and Connell who seem to be the right fit and Parkinson appears to have built a squad that on paper could/should challenge. He seems to have been going for the right balance, for example the signing of Connell, who won’t break up the Wells/Hanson partnership, but has proven very capable as a rotation player elsewhere.
Parkinson is definitely winning me over, but we have been in this position before and so I wait to see how he manages with a capable side over the course of a season.
I have been very impressed with Parkinson’s transfer business so far. Bringing Andrew Davies back to the club on a permanent deal has got to be one of the signings in the division never mind at Valley Parade. Players such as James Meredith from York seem to be hungry players who want to progress their careers and do well, Stephen Darby another young player with a good schooling from his time at Liverpool. Garry Thompson and Gary Jones are experienced players who hopefully will give us that extra bit of nous to grind out the wins.
Upfront, I still think the most important signing is yet to happen and that would be to get Nahki Wells tied down on a longer term deal; but the arrival of Alan Connell from Swindon on paper gives us three really good strikers for this level, with Hannah and young Baker lower down the pecking order. The return of former player of the season Nathan Doyle is another big signing in the jigsaw especially given the fact that Ricky Ravenhill is out for the first few months of the season.
Parkinson has only a year to go on his contract. What does he have to do, for you, to earn another deal?
An improvement in results and his approach to games for me.
We have to be more adventurous. One thing that really annoyed me last season was when we went into games with two holding central midfielders, usually a combination of two from Bullock, Flynn and Ravenhill. It meant that we had no creativity at all. It was bad enough that Reid was our only outlet in the team, but to then make the problem worse by not having anyone in the side who could drive us forward or pick a pass was suicidal.
It was no coincidence for me that we looked a much better side when Ritchie Jones played and it will be interesting to see who starts in the “Engine Room” going forward. I can only assume that Gary Jones with his pedigree has been brought in as a starter and – when fit – Ravenhill seems to be a PP favourite and possible captain, but that central midfield combination looks to be severely lacking in pace to me. PP has to get this decision right.
Obviously all managers are judged on results at the end of the day and we cannot spend another season fighting a relegation battle. Ultimately I think that we are capable of making the top seven and I would like to see us have a damn good crack at it this year. If we finish lower than 11th or 12th, then the improvement has probably not been good enough and Parkinson would face a real fight to stay in his job. The problem will come if we narrowly miss out on promotion or the play offs – the board will then have a big decision to make.
He is nearly there. I’d just want to ensure that the performances of the team with the new players and all continued to progress and improve further from last season. We can be a formidable force in this league on a good day, but my concern comes from the games like Dagenham away last season. He needs to start to get performances from the team on these more testing occasions. Providing this happens then I’d be looking to get both Parkinson and Parkin tied down for at least another two seasons.
I have started to trust them to take us in the right direction. I like the fact they are promoting us as a club and a team and there isn’t any ego involved – unlike our previous two managers. I like his attitude towards the club, I like the kind of players he is bringing in and when we are playing well the football is really entertaining.
For me, like any other football fan not necessarily a City one, from your club year on year you want to see improvement and that’s what I want from Parkinson. Yes, I want promotion, but if we reach the play offs and don’t go up then at least it’s an improvement on the previous seasons – I find it a joke that we haven’t reached the play offs yet whilst being in League Two.
Sacking managers year in year out does the club no good whatsoever, I am confident that Parky will get us up. But if he doesn’t, as long as we are challenging at the right end of the league then stick with him going into the 2013/14 season and let him continue to build.
My concern is that once again the board have gone with a short term approach of promotion or bust and spent big to attract some high profile names (at this level) but once again we have a tough start and are expecting a new squad to gel quickly.
At the end of last season I would have accepted progress – comfortable mid-table or top half finish – as enough for Parkinson to secure a longer deal, but I no longer think this will be enough for the men in charge. Therefore, unless we are in the promotion hunt and have a good chance of making the play offs throughout 2013, Parky may start to feel a lot of pressure from above.
Keep the idiots onside by playing attacking football home and away! Other than that a flirtation with the top three and a definite play off place would secure his contract for the future. I also think a couple of signings later in the season to freshen up the squad would help and also getting the best out of players such as Hannah, Hanson and Atkinson who may seem as though they have something to prove in their own rights.
As a manager I both like, respect, and admire, I imagine I’d be willing to give him more leeway than most. A failure to make the play offs would probably go down as a failure, one for which he will likely pay the price. Although, if the side is a way off the Top 7 around Christmas, he will probably pay for it then. If the team show signs of improvement, raise morale and fail ‘honourably’ late in the season, I’d have no problem with extending Parkinson’s tenure. Although I don’t imagine those are the conditions sent down from the boardroom with regards to his future.