Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips has backed current boss Jack Ross to emulate Wolverhampton Wanderers, in an interview with Chronicle Live.
Phillips was speaking ahead of Sunday’s Checkatrade Trophy Final in which the Black Cats face Portsmouth.
Sunderland suffered the embarrassment of back-to-back relegations to League One, although Ross has steadied the ship this season.
His team are currently in fourth place, five points behind Barnsley in second with two games in hand on the Tykes.
The former striker netted 130 goals in 235 appearances for Sunderland and he can see the similarities with Wolves.
He told Chronicle Live: I don’t live too far from Wolves and I have watched them closely. When they were relegated twice they got rid of a lot of deadwood and started rebuilding. Look at them now.
“They could get to the FA Cup final and they’re sitting comfortably in the Premier League. They’ve learned from their mistakes and that’s the biggest thing for Sunderland – they have to learn from their mistakes.”
The Black Cats will be backed by a raucous 41,000 following at Wembley on Sunday.
The fans have never let the club down and Phillips believes Ross is doing a cracking job at the Stadium of Light.
He continued: “Jack has done an exceptional job because it’s not an easy one.
“He knows it’s a big football club and he realised if he could get the sleeping giant going then could become a club legend pretty quickly.
“He’s not afraid to give young players a chance which is great in any league. I’ve watched them live this season and they’ve got a lot of energy and play a good attacking style of football.”
These comments from a Sunderland legend like Phillips indicate that he thinks the club is on the way back.
Taking 41,000 spectators to Wembley for the Checkatrade Trophy final is a fantastic effort and indicates that the fanbase is still there.
Phillips might be slightly premature in comparing the Black Cats to Wolves, however.
Substantial finances have been pumped into Wolves to allow them to sign quality players and that has certainly helped them over the last two years.
Sunderland have some way to go just yet before they can consider going on a similar streak to the Molineux-based club.
Momentum is a big thing though and if Sunderland can finish this season on a high and reach the Championship, who knows what might happen next season.