Dick Advocaat says Sunderland might be better off being relegated from the Premier League this season in order to come back stronger.
Sunderland picked up their first win of the season away at Bournemouth before the international break but remain bottom after the club's worst ever start to a league campaign - going the first 10 games without a win.
Former manager Advocaat - who resigned last October - has suggested it maybe in the club's long-term interests to be relegated in order to "build a new team", highlighting Newcastle United's change of fortunes this season, with Rafa Benitez's side top of the Championship.
Advocaat said: "Maybe it’s better to go down, to build a new team like Newcastle who have a great club, a great fan base and a great stadium just like Sunderland.
"Sunderland simply cannot go on this way because other clubs invest in the team, they spend money on good players and, if you don’t do it, you are in trouble because there’s too much quality elsewhere in the Premier League to expect to survive every year."
Advocaat stepped down as Black Cats manager last October claiming the Sunderland squad was not good enough to stay up. Sam Allardyce took charge at the Stadium of Light and steered the club to safety against the odds, with David Moyes replacing him in the summer.
Owner Ellis Short has bankrolled Sunderland since he took charge seven years ago, investing more than £200m of his own cash into the club.
He has faced criticism over the club’s transfer business, although Sunderland spent £27.12million this summer - the 10th highest net spend.
But Advocaat, now manager at Fenerbahce, has claimed the club do not spend enough money to compete in the Premier League.
"You can only define Sunderland’s problems if they spend the same as other clubs and they don’t do that," added the Dutchman.
"I said that well over a year ago and this is the reason I left after eight games when I decided to come back at the start of last season.
"I had no chance, I had that feeling. OK, Sam Allardyce came in after me and he did a great job.
"But it went down to the wire, to the last two games of the season.
"You can’t do that every season, it’s just not possible – because, sooner or later, your luck is going to run out."