'Next!'

Like a casting director auditioning a never-ending list of hopefuls, Sunderland had seen enough of Phil Parkinson and he was left to trudge off stage and join the massed ranks of all those who had failed before him.

Just another managerial casualty at a club that is now searching for its sixth boss since the club crashed out of the Premier League just three-and-a-half years ago.

Truth be told, Parkinson was not the fans' choice for the managers' job when he was appointed in October last year, and nothing they had seen over the last 13 months had changed their minds.

His reserved, studious, demeanour did not strike a chord with supporters, nor were they won over by his proven track record in the third tier which had twice seen him lead teams to promotion.

It didn't help that his reign got off to a calamitous start with only two wins in 14 games in all competitions.

Parkinson sacked - what next for Sunderland

But nor, seemingly. did it help Parkinson much when his side then won nine of their next 12 league games and lost only one.

There was always a feeling that supporters did not buy into him, and even when Sunderland were winning it only afforded Parkinson a stay of execution.

The revival of early 2020 brought Sunderland to the brink of the automatic promotion places, but they then had the misfortune to drop out of the top six at the very moment the season was suspended - and later curtailed - due to the Covid crisis, which ended any hope they had of getting out of League One.

Fans were unimpressed with the club's recruitment over the summer, and while Parkinson could point with some justification to the restrictions of the salary cap, it seemed to cut little ice.

A decent start to the campaign of four wins and two draws bought him some time, but the furious reaction from fans to a home defeat against Portsmouth followed by a draw at Rochdale only served to illustrate just how little credit he had in the bank.

Back-to-back wins at Gillingham and at home to promotion rivals Ipswich were met with only grudging praise, with supporters still unhappy with the way the team was performing, the lack of goals, even the number and the timing of substitutions.

But a shock home defeat against MK Dons, conceding an injury-time equaliser at Doncaster last weekend, followed by a draw at Fleetwood on Friday night put the pressure on owner Stewart Donald - a man even more unpopular with fans than Parkinson - to act.

And, just as he did last October when there was a clamour to sack Jack Ross, Donald pulled the trigger.

Parkinson leaves with the club sitting eighth in League One after 13 games. Or, to look at it another way, five points outside the automatic promotion places with a game in hand.

His predecessor Ross, who had taken the club to the play-off final the season before, was shown the door when Sunderland were sixth in the table after 11 games. They were four points outside the promotion places at the time, also with a game in hand.

Similar situations, similar results, same outcome.

So what now for Sunderland?

Today's club statement said that the board will begin the process of identifying Parkinson's successor, with first-team coach Andrew Taylor taking temporary charge for Tuesday's game against Burton Albion.

But if the current board is charged with the task of appointing a new manager, what does that tell us about the takeover negotiations that are apparently being conducted in the background?

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Donald and minority shareholder Charlie Methven, remember, were the men who hired and fired Ross and Parkinson.

Twice they felt they had found the right manager, and twice they have had to admit they got it wrong.

Should they be making the decision over the new man?

Or will Juan Sartori and French billionaire heir Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, who are apparently on the verge of completing a deal to buy the club, be directing operations from afar?

If the takeover really is as close as we are led to believe, it is hard to imagine that they will not want a say.

Whoever gets the job, the brief will be the same: promotion.

They will have the same group of players to work with.

And they will need to make an instant impact, produce an immediate improvement in performances and results, and win fans over with their rousing rhetoric.

Best of luck. Or should I say 'break a leg!'.