West Ham United co-chairman David Gold has told Press Association Sport, as quoted by the Belfast Telegraph, that he never doubted that his former manager Sam Allardyce would keep Sunderland up because he's "old" and has experience.
Allardyce, who took over from Dick Advocaat at the Stadium of Light in October, saw his new club struggling in the relegation zone for the majority of the campaign but a run of just a single defeat in their last 10 league matches resurrected their hopes of survival.
After Saturday's dramatic 3-2 comeback win over Chelsea, the Wearsiders, who have spent more time in the bottom three this season than any other club including bottom side Aston Villa, secured their survival with a 3-0 victory over Everton on Wednesday night.
Gold, who along with David Sullivan decided not to renew Allardyce's contract as Hammers boss at the end of last season, said that Sunderland's late surge to safety did not surprise him as the 61-year-old has more experience than most of scrapping at the bottom.
The West Ham co-chairman told Press Association Sport, as quoted by the Belfast Telegraph: "It doesn't surprise me, he is the great survivor, and he's old, which gives him something which young people don't have, and that's experience. He's had vast experience as a player, and as a manager, in difficult circumstances.
"He's never really managed a 'glamour' club - maybe with the exception of West Ham, of course - but he is a survivor. When he went to Sunderland, I immediately said, 'He will keep them up'. And it was doubtful: it was in the balance for months. But when it mattered, Sam delivered.
"Experience pays off more, and is more valuable in a 'doubt' situation, where you need level heads; patience. You don't need that at a big club: you need to be adventurous, you need to be innovative. He would probably argue that he could also do it for a big club, but certainly his track record says that that's what he does best."
Sunderland's survival this season ensured that Allardyce has preserved his record of never having been relegated from the Premier League, an impressive one considering the ominous situations he has both inherited and been dragged into at clubs during his career.