Football: Parkes continues to pile up the points

Blackburn Rovers 1 Sunderland 0
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The Independent Online
It is a curious position in which Tony Parkes finds himself. He at once has both the worst job in the Premiership and the best.

With him, unenviably, lies the responsibility for keeping Blackburn safe from relegation, but only so someone else can have a crack at the championship next season. If he's lucky, his reward will be not to get the sack.

On the other hand, even if he fails and Blackburn go down, no one will say it is his fault. After all, when he took over from Ray Harford the team had four points from 10 matches and were bottom of the table, looking doomed. He never wanted to be manager anyway.

There is a bonus, too. Should Roy Hodgson, appointed last week and due to take over in July, decide he does not want the club's three-times caretaker manager on his coaching staff, there will be no shortage of offers of alternative work.

Especially now that Parkes has made his ambitions known. "I wouldn't say I'll never be a manager," he said last week, in a subtle U-turn from previous statements. "But I wouldn't want to be manager of Blackburn Rovers. Possibly six years ago, before we were promoted... but now it's a big, big business."

For the moment, after 27 years at Ewood Park, he says he wants to stay. The Blackburn hierarchy will happily keep him on but whether he can be accommodated within the new coaching regime remains to be seen. He certainly hopes to have greater contact with Hodgson than with Sven Goran Eriksson, with whom he had a three-hour meeting in Genoa in December but never spoke to again in person before the Swede's change of heart last month.

Eriksson's letter of apology to the club he jilted appeared in Saturday's programme, expressing regret for the "inconvenience and disappointment" he caused. Happily for Blackburn, the unhappy episode seems not to have inconvenienced Parkes, whose record shows eight wins and only four defeats in 18 games so far.

Parkes did suggest one favour Eriksson might do while he and Hodgson remain rival coaches in Serie A. "Being as he and Mr Hodgson will no doubt be seeing one other," Parkes said, "maybe Mr Eriksson would like to pass on all the videos I've sent him."

There will be no rush to get the film of Saturday's encounter in the post to Milan. With a swirling wind making fluency almost impossible and Sunderland, woefully lacking punch up front, content to play a spoiling game, it made a poor spectacle, not one that Per Pedersen, Blackburn's pounds 2.5m signing from Odense, will remember. A quiet full debut by the Danish striker was lifted only in the last few minutes by a splendidly struck 20-yard goal by Kevin Gallacher, who had been Blackburn's liveliest player.

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