Former Sunderland midfielder says there are ‘big problems’ at club

Paddy McNair in action against Middlesbrough.
Paddy McNair in action against Middlesbrough.
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Former Sunderland star Dean Whitehead says there are ‘big problems’ at the club.

The former Black cats midfielder, who also played for Middlesbrough, watched on as the managerless Wearsiders lost 1-0 in the Tees-Wear derby clash at the Riverside.

Marcus Tavernier’s early goal was enough to separate the sides, leaving Sunderland rock-bottom of the Championship going into the international break.

Whitehead, speaking on Sky Sports, says the club needs to pull together and appoint a new manager as quickly as possible.

“There’s big problems,” he said. “There’s been big problems there for a few years now.

“They need to steady the ship and get someone in.

“They need to get everybody together, the whole group together, gain confidence and work on it on the training pitch to ultimately get results, because they need to get them quickly.”

Robbie Stockdale and Billy McKinlay were in caretaker charge for the Boro game, but despite an improved performance, Sunderland have now failed to win in their last 14 league games.

Whitehead’s fellow TV pundit, former Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews, said there is no getting away from the fact the club is in a relegation battle – and said they need a ‘personality’ to turn their fortunes around.

And he believes that the manager appointment is ‘crucial’ for the long-term future of the club.

“They are in a serious predicament in terms of the way it’s been over the last few years,” Andrews said. “But right here, right now, this managerial appointment for them is crucial.

“They need experience, they need a personality they need someone who is going to fight in terms of getting transfer money in January and for the right way for the long-term future of the football club.

“Those players need guidance.”