Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat has hit back at former defender Michael Gray following his damning assessment of the club's poor start to the Barclays Premier League season.
Former England left-back Gray, 41, now a radio pundit after retiring from the game in 2010, described last weekend's display in the 3-1 home defeat to Norwich as the "lowest of the low".
Gray told talkSPORT: "What I saw at the weekend was so inept... half of the players I wouldn't put in a Championship side."
He added: "I couldn't believe what I witnessed. I have seen some pretty inept performances over the last three years, but that was the lowest of the low, it really was."
But Advocaat pulled no punches when asked for a reaction, telling a press conference ahead of Saturday's home league game against Swansea: "I heard a story about Michael Gray.
"Let's say first I have respect for all the club's legends, but when Sunderland were relegated and 90 people in the office heard they had been fired Mr Gray arrived in a new Ferrari, I don't know where it was, but that shows.
"If I knew that 90 people had to go because we are going down, then I would go on my bike and not in a Ferrari.
"That says enough about the mentality of that man. So I'm not a friend of his now."
Sunderland came in for heavy criticism following their 4-2 opening-day defeat at Leicester and it only increased after their performance against Norwich, with fans urging club chairman Ellis Short to invest heavily in the squad.
Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer - a Newcastle favourite - has claimed the Black Cats are already "doomed".
"Criticism is ok, I can live with that because we played bad, so I have no problem with that," Advocaat said.
"But if you sometimes watch television and that kind of thing, well ok, if you have a programme you have to fill it up.
"The teams who are not doing well - and we have played two games, there are 36 to go - we know what we have to improve and we will improve."
Former Holland and Belgium coach Advocaat also jumped to the defence of Short, but when asked if Sunderland could compete without "investment at a significant level, he said: "I think not.
"Watching what all the other teams are doing we're staying a little bit on the same level, the same level we were on before.
"Financial-wise at the moment we cannot compete with the other teams. Let's wait until next week (when the transfer window closes) then we know what we have."
Weary Black Cats supporters fear Advocaat will walk away from Wearside if he is unable to make quality new signings.
Advocaat said: "I don't want to discuss that now because that is not the issue. We're concentrating on Saturday."
And in response to Jermain Defoe's public assertion that he was currently being played out of position, the Dutchman added: "Jermain Defoe will play on the left or the right side, or on the bench.
"Nobody can tell me where he has to play, I decide where he plays or doesn't play."