MICHAEL Gray has called on Sunderland to make a move for West Ham boss Sam Allardyce after the club sacked Gus Poyet on Monday.
The Black Cats sit just a point above the relegation zone and suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday with many fans leaving the Stadium of Light at half-time.
Allardyce’s contract at West Ham, who Sunderland face on Saturday, expires in the summer and with no extension currently in sight Gray, who spent the first 12 years of his career with the Black Cats, thinks the former Bolton boss would be the ideal man for the job.
“If you’re looking long term, there’s only one person out there for me and he’s in charge of the club that we’re playing at the weekend,” he told Sky Sports News.
“He’s man-made for it. I know he’s having contractual talks with West Ham (over) whether he’s going to be staying with the club at the end of the season, he would certainly be my choice.
“It’s unfortunate that Gus has lost his job, nobody likes to see that, but we’re all going to be speculating about a new manager and there’s only one out there for me to take the rein.”
The Hammers are unlikely to allow Allardyce to leave Upton Park before the end of the season and Gray would like to see Sunderland stalwart Kevin Ball, who has twice served as caretaker boss before, to take over until the end of the season.
“I would put Kevin Ball in charge until the end of the season,” he added. “A man with a lot of passion, a lot of love for the football club. He lost his coaching role three or four months ago as well so I’d certainly bring him back until the end of the season.”
He added: “It’s unfortunate because I think that Sunderland have decent players, they’ve obviously got experienced players who have come down from Manchester United but for some strange reason the performances have just dipped of late.
“They need to find a winning formula and unfortunately it came too late for Gus Poyet.”
The Uruguayan managed to keep the Black Cats up against the odds last season but they needed seven games to claim their first league victory this term and that was followed by an 8-0 hammering at Southampton.
A home defeat to a QPR team who had failed to claim a point away from Loftus Road set alarm bells ringing in February and an FA Cup loss to Bradford five days later led to Poyet penning a seemingly unedited and rambling open letter to the fans which only appeared to alienate the Wearside faithful further.
“A few had turned against him quite a while ago and I can understand that,” Paul Dobson from fanzine ‘A Love Supreme’ told BBC Radio Five Live.
“Given the results at QPR and Bradford, many managers would have gone after those two games.”
He added: “The writing was on the wall after Saturday, there was very little chance of him seeing the week out.”
Former England striker turned Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker also suggested things may not have been comfortable at Sunderland for Poyet, tweeting: “ Sunderland have sacked Gus Poyet. Rumour has it he may not be too heartbroken.”