Darren Williams has called on Sunderland to appoint a manager who has a strong connection with the club and fanbase - and admits he’d love to see the return of Peter Reid.
Former right-back Williams, who has applied for the job, is saddened by Sunderland’s current plight with the club battling at the wrong end of the Championship.
Just one league win cost Simon Grayson his job with chief executive Martin Bain conducting the search for the second manager in the space of four months.
Williams, who would love to be back involved in some capacity at the club he made 239 appearances for, believes it is imperative the new manager has an affinity for the club.
The 40-year-old was signed by Reid for £50,000 from York City in 1997 and he would love to see his return.
Reid is currently working for Wigan Athletic in an advisory role.
“I would love to see him come back,” Williams said.
“Him and Bobby Saxton I love to bits. I got on really well with them, they developed me as a young player and developed me into a man, I owe them a lot. It would be great to see Reidy back there shouting and bawling.
“The game has changed and players’ attitudes - not all players but a lot of them - their attitudes are different now.
“They can’t always accept people having a go at them. Back then it was part and parcel of football.
“You have to go with somebody who has a connection with the club and knows the fans and knows what the fans want.
“The club has lost a lot, I don’t mean financially, I mean in other ways in terms of character, the connection with the fans, it has lost the team and team spirit.
“I have been there a few times this season and you can feel it as soon as you walk to the ground.
“You get there at a certain time and think back a few years ago and it would be rammed outside the ground, everybody excited with expectation ahead of the game, we are going to win this game etc.
“That isn’t there any more and it is sad to see.
“We have had some good managers over the years but now it is time to rebuild. We lost Big Sam at a crucial time, he had that connection.
“Things could have been different if he had stayed but you can’t fault him for leaving because he had a great opportunity with England.”
Managerless Sunderland prop up the table, three points adrift of safety and Williams believes everyone has to take responsibility - not just Grayson, axed after 15 games in charge.
“Looking around at the atmosphere at the moment it is quite dire, it is very subdued,” said Williams.
“I don’t think Simon Grayson is a bad manager but he came into the club at a bad time with morale and team spirit low.
“There is a lot of negativity around the place at the moment. Everyone from top to bottom has to take responsibility for the situation the club finds itself in.
“You can never say relegation isn’t a possibility because it is, that is a fact.
“We need to sort ourselves out quickly. Christmas is a very busy period in the Championship so we need to get a run together.
“We have a team that has a lot of Premier League players, you look at it and think why are we in this position?
“Unfortunately, at this moment in time there are too many people within the squad that are either not good enough or their attitude isn’t in the right place.
“Whoever comes in has to look at that first and foremost.”
Having played in front of a wall of noise at the Stadium of Light during Reid’s tenure, Williams is saddened by the falling attendances, though it is no surprise given fans have not witnessed a home win since December last year - equalling an English record in the process of 19 games.
“It can be a real asset, your twelfth man, the Stadium of Light,” added Williams.
“Once the crowd is behind you it can be very daunting for teams when it is full.
“Teams now are not coming to the Stadium of Light fearing anything, instead they are coming thinking they have a great chance. It didn’t used to be like that. It is horrible to see.”
Williams, who had four years in charge at Whitby Town before being sacked two years ago, has again applied for the Sunderland manager’s job.
“Yes I have and I always will,” added tough-tackling Williams, who also had spells at Cardiff City and Hartlepool United.
“I love the club and would love to be part of the club in some shape or form.
“I learned a hell of a lot managing part-time and I would love to manage full-time - getting to work with players day in, day out would be a dream. Whether it is manager or coach, I would love to be back there.”