ELEVEN years, twelve permanent managers. When it comes to job security at Sunderland in the last decade-or-so, the removal men charged with the task of clearing out the managerial office at the Academy of Light are the only people to have been in steady employment.

From Roy Keane to Jack Ross, via a series of stop-offs at just about every conceivable point on the managerial spectrum, Sunderland have searched far and wide for ‘the one’. Sam Allardyce went on to manage England, Martin O’Neill went on to lead Ireland, Paolo di Canio went on to goodness only knows what. All arrived on Wearside promising to transform Sunderland’s fortunes; all left having ultimately failed to live up to their pledge.

Allardyce came closest to achieving what might have been termed success before he was whisked away by the Football Association, but the record of failure and frustration since Keane claimed the Championship title in 2007 is truly remarkable.

All of which brings us to Phil Parkinson, the latest rider on Sunderland’s managerial merry-go-round. Unlike a number of his predecessors, he does not inherit a group of players floundering close to the foot of the table. Unlike Ross, he does not have to cobble together a squad from next-to-nothing in the final few weeks of the transfer window.

He does, however, take on the pressure of leading a club that fervently believes its natural environment is the Premier League, even though it is trudging around in the nether reaches of League One.

As Parkinson was forced to acknowledge in his introductory press conference on Thursday, that brings its own problems. Promotion is the be all and end all this season, anything else will be regarded as a failure. There will be no honeymoon period, no month or two’s grace in which to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the squad. Fail to win at Wycombe Wanderers this afternoon, and the knives will be out. Even if Parkinson was to win his first ten matches, there will still be supporters who do not want him.

And yet… The Sunderland job is like English football’s apple in the Garden of Eden. For years now, it has been the ultimate temptation. Get it right, and you will be a hero forever. Get it right, and you could find yourself riding Niall Quinn’s ‘magic carpet’ all the way to the Premier League. Get it right, and all worries or concerns will seem utterly irrelevant.

“It’s a compelling challenge because Sunderland is going to re-emerge as a club,” said Parkinson. “I do think that process has already started after some really poor years and somewhere along the line, hopefully very soon, it will be a Championship club again, competing to get back into the Premier League.

“Listen, I think everybody knows that Sunderland is a Premier League club in terms of everything about it. The stature, the training facilities, the stadium, the fanbase. That’s where it should be. Now, we know it’s not a given, and you’ve got to work exceptionally hard to achieve that again, but that has to be the aim.

“It’s an opportunity to get this club going again. It’s an opportunity where you're coming in to what I believe is a club making steady progress, on its way back off the pitch, and where you also have the opportunity to work with a squad that isn't too far off where it needs to be.

“We've got to make improvements in terms of how we go about each game, or maybe improvements in January. But there is already a good group of players here.”

And if Parkinson was to get it right, would it be the greatest achievement of his career? “Without a doubt,” he replied, with a twinkle in his eye.

Heartfelt words, yet also ones that have been said countless times before. Simon Grayson made the same utterances. As did Chris Coleman. And Ross. They all talked of Sunderland’s potential, of the ‘sleeping giant’ waiting to be shaken back into life.

Yet here we are, 11 games into the season, with the Black Cats sitting in ninth position in League One. That’s not sleeping, that’s hibernation.

Parkinson accepts each situation is unique, but to his credit, the 51-year-old is preparing to embark on a fact-finding mission by speaking to a number of Sunderland’s recent managers. What went right for them, and what did they think they did wrong? What works on Wearside, and what are the pitfalls to avoid? Ultimately, he will have to make his own decisions, but it can only help to be armed with as much background knowledge as possible.

“I haven’t spoken to anyone yet because when you go through the interview process, it's a bit of a whirlwind process and you don't like to alert too many people,” said Parkinson. “But as the weeks go by, I'll definitely be open to it.

“I've come across Peter Reid a lot in my time, and Steve Parkin (his assistant manager) knows Sam Allardyce well. I think you're a foolish manager if you don't ask people of that experience for advice.

"I’ve already had a good chat with Kevin Ball. He's someone I've known for a long time, and it's always interesting to hear other people's insight into what's required.”

In the immediate term, Parkinson will attempt to hit the ground running when he takes his side to Wycombe this afternoon.

In a quirk of footballing fate, he will come up against a team led by Gareth Ainsworth, the candidate who became his leading rival to be Sunderland boss. That is a sideshow he could probably do without, but also one he is adamant will not affect him.

Instead, having watched all of Sunderland’s matches from the current campaign in the last week or so, he will be focusing his efforts on tightening up a defence that leaked goals under Ross and ensuring his side offers enough of an attacking threat to take all three points.

He inherits a side eight points adrift of league leaders Ipswich Town, but that has still only suffered two defeats in all competitions this season.

“We’ve dropped down the table a bit in the (international) break, but that was always going to happen,” he said. “The league is really tight and there’s a great opportunity to get a couple of wins quickly and get ourselves in the mix.”