Peter Reid has questioned David Moyes' approach and believes Sunderland are "going down with a whimper".
Premier League strugglers Sunderland are 10 points from safety with just seven games to go and are Championship bound for the first time in a decade.
And former manager Reid, who enjoyed a successful seven-year spell in charge of Sunderland, has questioned Moyes' negative approach to the job since the Scot took charge last summer.
Reid, who was a guest at the Stadium of Light for the recent goalless draw with Burnley, said: "Early on in the season after a game, David says, 'we are in a relegation fight'.
"Now he might think that, but as a manger you don't say it publicly.
"I’ve got the highest regard for David. But when he was at Manchester United, and they were champions, and the fixtures came out, he said, 'I can't believe how difficult these fixtures are'.
"I've been a manager and know what it's like.
"When I first went up with Sunderland, we were building a new ground, Niall Quinn and Tony Coton got injured. I knew we were under the cosh, but I never publicly came out and said it because I think it sends out a bad message supporter-wise, but even more player-wise."
Reid, who spoke with Moyes in the aftermath of the Burnley draw, added: "I was there at the Burnley game and I had a word with David afterwards. I wouldn't say he was resigned to it, but there was an air of inevitability around the Stadium of Light.
"They've changed that many managers over the years and got out of it. I can't see a way out. I think they are down now.
"The owner is trying to sell the football club and, at this moment in time, there are no buyers.
"If they go down, like I think they will, it's hard to get out of that league, it's very difficult and it's a slippery slope.
"What they have done, they've geared the contracts for if they go down, so the financial implications aren't as big as if they hadn’t put a clause in the contract.
"The whole club's flat. It looks as though they are going down with a whimper," said Reid in an interview with beIN Sports.
Sunderland's seven-game goal drought smashed through the 11-hour mark with the 3-0 defeat to Manchester United at the Stadium of Light on Sunday,.
The club's battle against the drop has been made increasingly harder now the goals have dried up.
Moyes' hopes of strengthening the squad in January were limited by severe financial restrictions, with the club's debt and wage bill restricting the manager's ability to strengthen the squad sufficiently.
Reid said: "You’ve got to have a look at the transfer window which Sam Allardyce had last year, where they managed to get some good players in who kept them up.
"David was told there wasn’t that money available.
"I think it's gone through all the club. It’s flat on the terraces, it's flat on the pitch and a club that is close to my heart are going down.
"They are not good enough. They’ve got Defoe up front who has got them goals and won points, but they have gone seven games without a goal."