Sunderland should make Sam Allardyce their new boss, according to the club's former player Michael Gray.
The search for a new head coach is under way following Monday's decision to part company with Gus Poyet, sacked after less than 18 months in the job.
Former Holland and Rangers manager Dick Advocaat is Sky Bet's favourite to replace Poyet, but Gray offered an alternative in an interview with Sky Sports News HQ: put Kevin Ball in charge until the summer, and then go for Allardyce.
Ball has twice taken temporary charge and his former team-mate Gray, who made more than 350 league appearances for his hometown club, said: "I actually would probably put Kevin Ball in charge for the rest of the season. He's a man with a lot of passion and a lot of love for the football club."
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Beyond that Gray's solution would be to take advantage of Allardyce's uncertain future at West Ham, where his contract is up at the end of the season.
Allardyce's side host Sunderland in this weekend's live Saturday Night Football, and Gray said: "I think if you're looking long term there's only one person out there for me, and he's in charge of the club we're playing at the weekend.
"I think he's man-made for it, I really do. I know he's having contractual talks with West Ham about whether he's going to be staying at the end of the season, but he would certainly be my choice.
It's unfortunate Gus has lost his job - nobody likes to see that - but we're all going to be speculating about a new manager and there's only one out there for me.
"It's unfortunate Gus has lost his job - nobody likes to see that - but we're all going to be speculating about a new manager and there's only one out there for me."
The immediate task for the new man will be to secure Premier League survival over the remaining nine games.
Sunderland are a point clear of the bottom three, in better shape than they were on last season's run-in, when only a run of four straight wins in April and May saw them escape the drop.
Gray said: "When a manager loses his job there's only one reason - performances haven't been great. The last four I've witnessed myself, and they just haven't performed. It looked like the writing was on the wall.
"Hull away from home - the first 45 minutes was pretty much the worst 45 minutes I've witnessed as a Sunderland fan or player.
"They need to find a wining formula. It's come too late for Gus Poyet, but they need to get it right. They had a miracle last season and it looks like they'll have to do the same again."
Watch West Ham v Sunderland live on Sky Sports 1 from 4.45pm this Saturday.