Former Sunderland midfielder Alex Rae says Alex McLeish is the man to fill the vacant managerial role on Wearside

Former Sunderland midfielder Alex Rae has claimed that former Birmingham City and Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish is the manager that the Black Cats "have been crying out for" following their relegation from the Premier League.

Aberdeen boss remains the bookmakers' favourite

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes is still the favourite for the manager's job, which was vacated after David Moyes resigned following an end of season meeting with chairman Ellis Short and chief executive Martin Bain.

Rae, who spent five years on Wearside and was part of the club's most sucessful Premier League side with two seventh placed finishes, told the Sunderland Echo that this will be "one of the club's biggest appointments in recent history".

"Sunderland is a monster of a club", said Rae, who knows Bain through their time at Rangers, before adding that the club's next manager must "be able to deal with the pressures that come with the responsibility."

Could McLeish be the man to guide Sunderland forward?

Former Black Cats man believes McLeish's character would stand him in good stead on Wearside

McLeish has been unemployed since being sacked by Egyptian Premier League club Zamalek after just three months at the helm, with his last job in England being with Championship side Nottingham Forest whom he left in 2013 by mutual consent.

Rae was full of praise for McLeish however, describing the Scotsman as a "big, big character" who has "trophies coming out of his ears".

"McLeish has got everything", added Rae, who went on to describe the 58-year-old as a man who will "command respect" in a Sunderland dressing room that has been described as "rotten" by former Black Cats boss Paolo Di Canio.

Rae, who most recently managed Scottish Championship side St Mirren, said that McLeish is a manager who can "work to a budget" and that he believes the former Scotland boss "would welcome an offer to be Sunderland boss".