Peter Reid believes the good relationship between Sunderland owner Stewart Donald and manager Jack Ross could be the key to the club regaining former glories.
The former Sunderland manager told the Echo: “Any football club that wants to move forward, it helps if you’ve got unity and stability at the top - and I think Sunderland have got that right now.
“I’ve always said the relationship between the manager and the chairman, or the owner, is the most important relationship there is at a football club.
“And I’ve seen enough evidence of that over the years - both as a player and a manager - that clubs, where the board and the manager are singing from the same hymn sheet, are that much stronger.
“That stability at the top is often reflected in the team and in the fans and when I look back to my time at Sunderland, like when we were winning promotion with 105 points or doing well in the Premier League, those were times when everyone was pulling in the same direction.
“I think Sunderland have struggled to have that togetherness at the top for quite a few years now and maybe the results of that have been seen in the team's form and the successive relegations.
“But it’s clear that that’s very different now and that can only be a good thing for Sunderland.”
The mutual respect between Ross and Donald has been evident since the Scot was appointed this summer.
In a recent interview, Ross said: “Stewart and I get on well from a personality point of view.
“Take away the relationship as an owner and a manager, and we got on well from the first time we met. I like him, so that helps.
“It’s a good starting point. He has an enthusiasm and passion for it, and I would rather that than somebody that didn’t have it.”
Donald meanwhile said of Ross: "I like him, he’s everything we wanted him to be.
“He’s very relaxed, I’m the impatient one.
“Without putting too much pressure on, he’s been a breath of fresh air, he’s made the place much more professional."
While Reid believes the relationship will be a massive help, he still says the club faces a massive challenge short-term.
He said: “It reminds me a lot of my first season at the club when money was too tight to mention and that’s one of the biggest tests of a manager.
“Jack is facing that right now and it will be a frustration for him as it was for me in my first full season but he’s just getting on with it and he’s really making the most of the resources he’s got.
“The problems he’s inherited and the fact that he doesn’t have much to spend, make what he’s done so far all the more impressive.”
Reid was speaking ahead of a book launch at the Stadium of Light next Friday, November 16th, where he will be joined by fellow ex-Sunderland manager Malcolm Crosby. Tickets can be bought here.