WHEN, as a manager, you are hounded by supporters just 11 games into your reign as manager, then you know you are up against it.

For Phil Parkinson, he hopes that the reaction to his side’s pitiful home defeat to Burton Albion ten days ago can prove a turning point, a watershed moment for the club.

Leading 1-0, the Black Cats succumbed to 70th minute goal. With it all positivity and hope evaporated. Players went into their shells, the crowd went into meltdown.

“Sacked in the morning” they howled at the manager.

Today Parkinson takes his side to Gillingham, a team they failed to beat at home in the first round of the FA Cup before being beaten in a replay.

That home game with the Gills was bad, the Burton affair equally inept.

“It was a strange kind of night,’’ mused Parkinson at the Academy of Light on Thursday. “Basically, prior to the goal [Burton's winner], the supporters were right behind us and we had a couple of chances and we done all right and really, it was the only chance Burton had [in the second half] and we should have dealt with it better.

“But it was like someone flicked a switch and the crowd turned, the players lost their way and we lost our confidence as a team. The crowd went from being right behind us to getting very frustrated with everybody on and off the pitch, which we understand because the crowd have got a huge passion for the club.

“Like I said to the lads, we've got to be stronger and we've got to deal with those situations.’’

A manager in the line for fire is nothing new. Definitely not for Sunderland, certainly not for Parkinson.

He admitted: “It hurt. Obviously it's never nice. But I've managed I think nearly 750 games now and I've got experience of lots of different situations, and I've got a very good staff with me to work hard to find solutions to problems we've got or we might have going forward.

“You aren't a manager for as long as I have and managed as many games as I have without being resilient, and you've got to dig deep and find solutions to situations and that's what we'll do.

“I think everybody in the stadium will say, it was a huge contrast. It was. It shows the two sides. Prior to that the whole ground was behind us and we nearly got that second goal. But unfortunately they broke away on us. There's still plenty of time in the game to go, but we lost our way. That's football, you've got to look at it, analyse it, talk about the reasons why and move on.’’

Changing manager has become the norm on Wearside. Lose, react, sack, appoint. It’s hard for Parkinson to win over the crowd already, but he doesn’t see the merits of chopping and changing.

The club needs some sort of stability, and Parkinson admitted: “I think there's always different cases and it depends on them where stability is the right thing, or whether sometimes a change is needed.

“In any season you have, even in a promotion season, you have tough times. I've always, when I've gone into jobs, I've always sat down with owners and explained that.

“Even when I was a player and I was part of successful teams who got promotion, during that season there was a period where it wasn't going well. That's when you need the good people around you - strong people above you, strong people alongside you because football is a competitive industry and you've got another team and another manager trying to get one over on you each week. It's tight dividing lines within games. So it's about learning from the experience I've had in my career and taking into this situation now.’’

After today’s game, the Black Cats face Blackpool at home next weekend before a week off – thanks to Bury’s disappearance from the football map – and then Bolton visit the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day.

Parkinson has had a spell on the training ground, without the added pressure of a game, to work with his charges and get his message across.

He added: “11 games is no time at all, and games have come thick and fast as everybody knows we've had problems with the injuries and the internationals, and we've played a few games when we were very short on bodies as well.

“So the circumstances which have attributed to recent results, we know what they are, and I'm very clear in my mind what we need to do, and I'm confident we can do it.

“In any season, even the seasons which end up in early May as being successful, there's times we look back on and say, 'That was a tough period'. But we need everybody to stick together and work towards one single cause and to get behind us, get behind me, the team, everybody, players who come off the bench... Just give everybody every chance because I believe we've got quality within the squad.

“There's areas we need to improve, we know that, and we're working hard in order to do that.’’