AS Martin Bain assesses the credentials of the candidates interested in becoming Sunderland’s next manager, a sickened and brutally honest Marc Wilson feels the ailing club’s fortunes will never improve until the team bucks its ideas up on the pitch.

Problems at the Stadium of Light run far deeper than what is going on inside the dressing room and out on the field of play, but there is a widespread opinion the Black Cats do possess enough talent within the squad to be out of the Championship relegation zone.

That is certainly the opinion of Wilson, and his sentiments were echoed by co-caretaker boss Robbie Stockdale after Sunday’s defeat at Middlesbrough. The reality, though, is that there is little sign of the situation improving, with players depressed and struggling for a boost.

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Sunderland have won just one of their 16 games in the second tier, sit three points adrift of safety and are rooted to the foot of the second tier. On current evidence there is every chance that they will drop into the third tier of English football for the second time.

Bain, the chief executive, is responsible for appointing a manager capable of lifting them from that position and he is looking to do so before the end of the international break when they will face Millwall at the Stadium of Light.

He is known to have considered former Rangers boss Ally McCoist, who he knows, as well as a number of other contenders. Sunderland skipper John O’Shea, South Shields-born Phil Brown and Wigan’s Paul Cook, who has Peter Reid as part of his backroom team, are among the others in the frame.

But nothing is imminent. Bain and Ellis Short, the club’s owner, are looking to make progress in the coming days in the hope of the new man having some time on the training ground before that first home match in charge on November 18.

Sunderland’s players liked working with Simon Grayson, but still couldn’t lift the gloom and conjure up the results that would have kept him a job … so Wilson knows the players have a huge responsibility on their hands regardless of who is leading them.

“Of course (you feel bad),” said 30-year-old Wilson. “It's never nice to see anyone lose their job. It's a horrible feeling but it's a reality of football, it's a points-based game and unfortunately these things happen.

“It’s not for me to say (what we need from the next manager). We'll have to wait and see what the powers above say but as players we can only act the pitch and we've definitely got to improve, no question about that.

“I would definitely think we have enough here to stay up, 100 per cent. There's enough quality in the squad, it's just trying to dig that out.

“If we can nail down what we're going to do in games quite early in the week then no question about it, I don't think we'll have a problem getting out of it.”

Wilson’s words were sincere. As he stood he was visibly shaken by another defeat – the fifth of the seven winless games he has played since arriving from Bournemouth – and he was clearly emotional after losing at Middlesbrough.

The Republic of Ireland defender said: “You feel sick after losing any football game. I know I do. But this is the situation we're in and only we can dig ourselves out of it.

“It's not just the players, everyone at the club – fans, staff, everyone – is devastated. I know I am. I feel sick after losing every single game.

“But unfortunately this is the way it's been going for us. There's no one else going to dig us out, there's nowhere we can hide our heads. We've got to do better on the pitch and start winning some games.”

The expectation is that Sunderland will have a new manager in sooner rather than later, and everyone is in desperate need of a lift having followed relegation from a ten-year stay in the Premier League up by winning just once in 16 matches.

Wilson, who endured an even lower point in his career when he was with Portsmouth when they fell into administration in 2010, said: “I think psychologically it's hard on the whole club but this is the position we're in and we don't need people hiding. It's not what we need to do.

“It's a hard position for anyone to be in but we've got to go out and get a positive result. That's the only thing that's going to improve the morale.

“It's easy to say on paper we should be winning games but that's not the case. If you don't play together as a team and a unit you're not going to win games and unfortunately that's what's sometimes been happening with us.

“We'll have to regroup for a start. You can only look to the next game, that's the only thing we can do now. I thought on Sunday (at Middlesbrough) we could have scored a few more goals but that's football, that's the way it's been.

“I'm not going to stand here and say we were unlucky because you make your own luck in football. We've just got to move on to the next game.

“The confidence in the boys has been low, it has to be better. As a club I think we've got to improve because it's a massive club and the results just aren't good enough. It's up to us to take responsibility and push on.”