By Alex Stevens

Tony Cascarino has claimed that Sunderland need to be more like Aston Villa.

The high profile pundit made the shock assessment as he gave his verdict on the struggles of David Moyes’ relegation-threatened side.

Villa have been widely criticised in recent seasons after following up a wretched Premier League campaign that resulted in relegation with a dismal Championship season in which their heavy transfer spending has not yielded results.

But former Villa record signing Cascarino, who spent a year at the club in the 1990s, believes they have a financial model that is far more robust than that of Premier League outfit Sunderland and Steve Bruce’s side will eventually come good.

“Every year when teams get relegated we assume most will have a chance of coming straight back up but some may struggle,” wrote Cascarino in his Times column. “Sunderland fall into another category all together — I think they could go into freefall.

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“Saturday’s match was a must win and the fact that they didn’t get the three points only cements my belief that they will go down.

“Players such as Jermain Defoe and young goalkeeper Jordan Pickford will move on and I can’t see too much substance to make me think they will compete in the Championship — they would probably only be mid-table even with their current team.

“The likes of Newcastle and Aston Villa have financial backing and a model that means they rejuvenated their squads to compete. But Sunderland, with owner Ellis Short looking for a buyer for the club, have no financial muscle just as manager David Moyes has complained about this season.

“If I was a Sunderland fan I would be fearing the worst.”

Sunderland are bottom of the Premier League with a haul of just 20 points from 28 matches, and have slipped to seven points adrift of safety.

By contrast, Villa are on a winning run, with their victory against struggling Wigan on Saturday their fifth in six matches.

But Bruce’s team have little hope of securing a place in the play-offs, as their improved form has only taken them to 12th in the Championship table, 11 points adrift of sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday with eight games remaining.

In other Aston Villa news, a defender has quit Villa Park and already agreed terms with another club.

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