Sunderland legend Micky Gray says the club should stick with David Moyes, even if they are relegated from the Premier League.
The Black Cats have just two points from the opening nine Premier League games of the season, and are five points adrift at the bottom of the table.
Some fans at the Stadium of Light have already lost faith with the Scot, who replaced England-bound Sam Allardyce in the summer.
Gray, who was relegated with Sunderland in 2006, says he cannot see the club staying up this season - but sacking the ex-Everton and Manchester United boss is not the answer.
Speaking to Jim White of Talksport, Gray said: "I have to say, the football at Sunderland at the minute stinks of what it was like in 2005-06.
"I just don’t see where it’s going to change. I look at the squad…and just wonder how many of them really believe they can stay in the Premier League.
"That’s not down to David Moyes. He didn’t really have the opportunity in the summer to bring in a lot of players because he took over so late.
"If we lose against Arsenal – and based on current performances we’ve got no chance – then we’re talking 10 games into the season without a win.
"So then you’ve got 28 games to pick up another 36 points. It’s becoming an impossible task for Sunderland to stay in the Premier League.
"Maybe dropping down to the Championship would be a blessing in disguise.
"Then David Moyes could start building from the ground up, from the foundations to what he needs to get us back in the Premier League and then move forward.
"Only then can we properly judge him, but that is going to take a lot of time.
"There’s a point in time when you’ve got to stop pointing your finger at the manager. It cannot always be his fault.
"We’ve had some very experienced managers at the club and we’ve got a hugely experienced man in charge right now, and he’s scratching his head to what’s going wrong.
"The manager can only do so much, we have to leave it to the players now. When they cross that white line, there’s nothing he can do.
"It’s up to the players and if they’re not performing and doing what they’re supposed to do, you’re going to lose football matches. That’s been an ongoing trend for the last four seasons."