Michael Gray’s Sunderland AFC verdict: David Moyes can keep us up but is the owner’s heart really in it?

Sunderland's Victor Anichebe scores his side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland.
Sunderland's Victor Anichebe scores his side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland.
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Former Sunderland defender Michael Gray believes David Moyes can lead Sunderland to safety this season, despite not realising the scale of the challenge ahead when he took the job.

Gray “wasn’t surprised” by his boyhood club’s desperate start to the season but thinks the fight shown in recent weeks can help spark an upturn in fortunes.

Sunderland beat Bournemouth and Hull City to record back-to-back victories for the first time since May.

Gray said: “I think he [Moyes] probably didn’t realise how big it was, which is why he came out with those statements earlier in the season.

“We were all kind of thinking it but coming in late, I think he got a shock walking through the door. He seems to be getting his point across to the players now.

“We are in a relegation fight but I’d like to think we’re going to survive.”

However, the ex-England international questioned Sunderland owner Ellis Short, who watched the win over Hull City from the director’s box.

Gray said: “It’s frustrating, now I’m on the other side as a fan.

“You talk about success and entertainment, that’s been lacking over the last five years.

“You mention the ownership at Middlesbrough, a local guy who has got the passion, Newcastle had it with Sir John Hall.

“Sunderland haven’t had that since Bob Murray left, I’m not sure how many games [Ellis Short] he does see a season, is his heart still in it?

“You haven’t got someone with that heart and passion, which is why it’s just got to this stalemate where you’re fighting relegation for four or five years.”

Gray was speaking on a special edition of the BBC’s Premier League show, dedicated to the current state of football in the North East.