Mick McCarthy says Chris Coleman's job rescuing Sunderland is like 'trying to stop an oil tanker with a canoe paddle'.
McCarthy brings his Ipswich Town side to the Stadium of Light on Saturday, a ground that he describes as 'mind-blowing'.
Sunderland won the Championship under his management in the 2004/05 season and the 58-year-old still has fond memories of his time on Wearside.
He told BBC Radio Suffolk: "I had a fabulous time at Sunderland, from a tough start. I was just thinking about Chris going in there, it’s like trying to stop an oil tanker with a canoe paddle I can tell you. It’s hard work.
"But it’s a great club, great people, a fabulous people. When I wanted to sign a player, I would show them round everywhere then into the director’s box and out into the Stadium, it is just brilliant, mind-blowing.
"I don’t know what to think of it [Sunderland's decline] actually.
"They’ve been on the brink for so many years but have been able to get someone to come in, wave a magic wand and keep them up.
"The following season they’ve been back in that position, so I do feel for Chris, it is hard when things aren't going well.
"He’s a very good guy and proved his worth in Wales. Look, the bigger the club, the more opinions, the more fans, noise, media, it can be really tough to manage."
McCarthy went on to win another second tier title with Wolves and while he has brought stability to Ipswich Town during his five years there, another promotion has proved elusive.
Coleman has come back into club management from an international post, just as McCarthy did when arrived on Wearside soon after leaving the Republic of Ireland.
McCarthy says the division has changed beyond all recognition since then and is much tougher to succeed in.
He said: "I think it has changed since I went from international management to the Championship.
"The league is better, better players, better managers maybe, different ideas and ways of playing. It has got better since I went in with Sunderland in 2003 and Wolves in 2006. Maybe there were more players around that I could get, Gary Breen, Dean Whitehead, Liam Lawrence, players you could nick in and get, motivate. Michael Kightly with Wolves, Matt Jarvis.
"Are those players around anymore? I’m not sure."