Sunderland are looking for a new manager following the resignation of Dick Advocaat.
The former Arsenal defender believes that Sunderland will want to appoint an experienced manager, given their current plight.
However, Keown says that any proven candidate for the Black Cats job is likely to have reservations over taking the role, which has proved so problematic in recent times.
"There’s been a succession of managers, the dilemma for Ellis Short is that he enjoyed Dick Advocaat’s wisdom, experience – he is a much-travelled man who understood the club well," Keown said.
"Before Advocaat, he had managers who were cutting their teeth - Gus Poyet, Paolo Di Canio, Roy Keane. Whether they felt Ellis Short was making things difficult I don’t know.
"Short knows this is the most important appointment he’s ever made. Everyone is talking about a young manager, but nobody wants to get relegated. You want a manager that is well-enough equipped to get you back up and stay there for a long period of time. Anyone with a proper track record may be dubious of going there."
Sunderland have struggled to find the right man to take them forward, with the club seemingly stagnating near the bottom of the Premier League.
The Black Cats have had a happy knack of avoiding relegation in the closing stages of a campaign, but they have failed to improve as desired.
That lack of progression seems to have come back to haunt them at the start of this season, with the side already five points adrift of safety.
It leaves whoever takes over at the Stadium of Light with a huge task on their hands, with Sunderland already looking likely to be stuck in a relegation battle for the remainder of 2015/16.