Former defender labels Sunderland a "complete mess" as search begins for David Moyes' replacement

Former Sunderland manager David Moyes

Former Sunderland manager David Moyes

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Former Sunderland defender Micky Gray has labelled the club a "complete mess" as they go in search of their ninth manager in eight-and-a-half years.

David Moyes resigned as manager on Monday morning as the club prepares to return to the Championship for the first time in a decade following relegation from the Premier League.

Former skipper Gray has urged the club's hierarchy to appoint a "young, hungry and fresh" manager, with the former defender tipping former team-mate Kevin Phillips for the role.

Moyes, whose future has been in doubt for several weeks, left Sunderland just one year into a four-year deal, with Moyes agreeing to waive his compensation following a meeting with club owner Ellis Short and chief executive Martin Bain.

Speaking to talkSPORT pundit Gray said: "I just hope somebody goes into that club and gets it right, because it is a complete mess.

"You can’t go into the beginning of the season and pick up two points from your first 10 games and think that everything is going to turn itself around. Because it’s not [going to happen].

"If you stand still in the Premier League you eventually get caught out and run out of luck."

And Gray believes there is one outstanding candidate for the role - former striker and club legend Phillips.

Asked if he would like the job, Gray said: "I would go there in a heartbeat!

"I’m not saying as a manager, but [the club] needs somebody.

"Maybe, now I know he’s not had a managerial job, but they’ll get behind somebody like Kevin Phillips, because he is a Sunderland legend.

"I know he’s been a coach at a couple of clubs now and he’s not had the opportunity of being a manager yet. But somebody like him.

"I’d love to see Chris Coleman or Ryan Giggs given an opportunity.

"That’s the route I think we’ve got to go down - young, hungry and fresh managers."

Moyes, who met with Short and Bain in London in the wake of the 5-1 season finale defeat to Chelsea, spent Monday night at the League Managers Association dinner, along with members of his former backroom staff at Sunderland.