Michael Gray has hit out at Sunderland owner Ellis Short and chief executive Martin Bain following relegation to League One.
The former Cats defender also slammed the club's recruitment record stating he doesn't think "half of those players in the squad should be anywhere near playing in a Sunderland shirt."
But Gray, who questioned how the club has been run in recent seasons, has backed Chris Coleman to turn the club's fortunes around following relegation to League One.
Sunderland AFC has suffered the embarrassment of relegation to the third tier for only the second time in the club's history with two Championship games still to play.
On where the blame lies, Gray said: "I have to look at the top, the way the club's being run over the last couple of seasons," he added. "We've got somebody in charge who doesn't want to be at the club anymore.
"[Chairman Ellis Short] tried when he came in and spent a lot of money. It hasn't worked for him and you have to question the recruitment at the club.
"[Chief executive] Martin Bain has been in charge at the club for a while now bringing in the players and with the greatest respect I don't think that half of those players in the squad should be anywhere near playing in a Sunderland shirt."
Coleman, who took charge in November but was unable to steer Sunderland to safety, wants to remain at the club but admits he is as much in the dark as anyone given the uncertainty over the future ownership of the club, with Short looking to sell.
He has been backed to revive Sunderland by Gray, who told Premier League Daily: "He's got that enthusiasm, he's really trying but it's obviously difficult at the moment - his hands are tied.
"He needs funds to strengthen the squad; he needs to bring in a better quality of player to give him that opportunity.
"We've got an enthusiastic manager who has ambitions of managing in the Premier League but that's going to take time but we have to stay with him.
"Him coming out and saying he wants to stay at the club and fight to get into the Championship is really good news."