Club legend hits out at ‘frightening’ Sunderland demise and warns no club too good to go down

Sunderland are beaten 5-2 by Ipswich Town.
Sunderland are beaten 5-2 by Ipswich Town.
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Legend Gary Bennett has hit out at Sunderland’s recent demise and warned no club is too big to go down.

The former captain – who made more than 350 appearances for Sunderland – says it is “frightening” how far the Black Cats have fallen in such a short space of time, labelling Sunderland a “laughing stock”.

Gary Bennett.

Gary Bennett.

Managerless Sunderland are rock bottom of the Championship with a third of the season gone.

Today marks two weeks since Simon Grayson was sacked with the club yet to appoint his successor, the ninth manager in six years.

It paints for a bleak picture on Wearside.

“You don’t like to see the club you love go the way that it is,” said Bennett,

“The club is so flat. They need a spark from somewhere.

“It has got to the point where it is embarrassing talking about where Sunderland football club is, it has become a laughing stock.

“Right throughout the country - you don’t even have to be a football fan - look where Sunderland are, rock bottom. It is frightening.

“No club is too big to go down, it is all about results and we are stuck in a bad habit of losing games.

“When you are losing games confidence is very low and you are looking around for that experience and responsibility.

“Have we got enough experience and responsibility to get us out the current situation? I don’t think we have.”

Aitor Karanka, Ally McCoist, Phil Neville and Paul Heckingbottom are all contenders to replace Grayson but Bennett says it has reached the stage where it doesn’t matter who takes charge - just start winning some games.

Sunderland have won one Championship game all season.

Bennett said: “I don’t like anybody to get the sack but you are judged on results.

“If you are going to sack somebody then you have to make sure you have somebody in place to takeover straight away.

“We thought Simon Grayson was the right man, when he first spoke he said the right things about getting that connection with supporters and understanding what the club was all about. It just didn’t happen for him.

“It needs somebody involved who has either been at the club, has an affiliation or understands the club.

“One time there would be a lot more excitement around who the next manager will be, excite the fans but that feeling isn’t there. The fans are thinking whoever comes in will have the same problems.

“One time we were linked with international managers. Now, we are not at that level, you look at some of the names mentioned, some are managing in League One and Two.

“At this point, when you have had so many managers you are not bothered who takes over as long as they get results.”

Sunderland host Millwall at the Stadium of Light on Saturday knowing anything other than a win will see them hold the English record for the longest home winless streak outright - 20 games.

The Black Cats currently hold the record jointly with Nottingham Forest, Derby County and Dagenham & Redbridge.

“The players have to take responsibility too,” added Bennett. “They are the ones who have got us in this situation, they are the ones that have to get us out of it.”

Bennett also wants to see more former players involved throughout the club.

Bennett, chairman of the Sunderland AFC Former Players Association, added: “Sunderland have Bally [Kevin Ball] and Jimmy Montgomery with vast experience but there are plenty of other players who are willing to give their right arm to help, whether it be in the academy or helping the new manager settle in and get a feel for the club.

“I speak to ex-players all the time, they would love an opportunity, all these players who are willing to play some part, if they ask me I would play a part in it.”