MICHAEL Gray says Gus Poyet is an excellent choice for the job.
Gray, who trained under Poyet in a spell at Leeds United, says the South American is an excellent motivator and first-rate coach.
But the ex-Black Cats’ skipper says just as important as owner Ellis Short picking the right man to replace Paolo Di Canio, is the need to give the new boss the time to build a side at the Stadium of Light.
The American billionaire has overseen six different managers in the half-dozen years since he assumed control of the club.
And Gray says after the swift turnover of Roy Keane, Ricky Sbragia, Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill, Paolo Di Canio and Kevin Ball, Sunderland need a man for the long term.
He told SportMail: “I’m excited about the news that Sunderland look set to appoint Poyet – I like him and respect him and I think he can do a good job at the club.
“But it’s vital that he is given time. To have that many managers in so few years is not healthy for any club.
“And I think that the owner has to appoint a new boss and then stick by him.
“I know that staying in the Premier League is the most important thing and that fact can cause a lot of changes in a lot of clubs – you don’t get much time to turn things around in football these days.
“But in Sunderland’s case, I think the time really has come to appoint someone you think can take the club forward and then trust them with a longer term contract.
“You can’t guarantee instant success at any club.
“And sometimes I think you’ve just got to go with it – if you feel you’ve got a decent appointment, then give them time to build something.”
Gray, one of the leading appearance-makers in Sunderland’s history, is now a media pundit following a career which took him to Celtic, Blackburn, Leeds and Sheffield Wed after leaving Wearside.
And it was at Leeds United, where Poyet spent a year as assistant manager in 2006-07, that their paths crossed.
Much of the revival Leeds enjoyed under Dennis Wise’s in that period was attributed to the South American’s presence.
And Gray said: “He’s an excellent coach, very hands on, and he has the ability to inspire and motivate a group of players.
“Sunderland will get a passionate, enthusiastic coach if they appoint him. He’s also got a lot of experience in management now and after a little time out of the game after Brighton I think he’ll be completely ready for the challenge he’ll face at Sunderland.”