Sunderland are currently bottom of the Championship. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.

Sunderland fans are desperate to find anything to make them smile at the moment.

And they’ll have enjoyed some much-needed comic relief when the news filtered through on Tuesday morning that David Moyes was appointed West Ham United’s new manager.

Yet when the laughs died down, reality hit the Black Cats’ faithful – their own club still hasn’t recovered from the terrible mess Moyes left them in.

While it’s unfair to say Moyes was completely responsible for Sunderland’s current predicament, the Scot was certainly a large contributing factor towards the downwards spiral which continues to this day.

It’s a downward spiral which cannot be allowed to get any worse.

For now Sunderland find themselves hunting for a ninth manager in just seven years and they are  in a perilous position at the foot of the Championship.

Moyes’ time in the North East will forever live in infamy and his poor recruitment coupled with his uninspiring demeanour – which was matched by poor on-field displays – set Sunderland on their way down.

It was always going to be a tough job for anyone to recover that mess, which Simon Grayson found out.

Grayson certainly got plenty of things wrong during his short-lived tenure on Wearside, but he was completely right when he claimed Sunderland aren’t too big to go down to the third tier.

That’s the reality of the situation the club finds themselves in. League One is staring them in the face, and something needs to be done about it.

But what?

Firstly, the managerial appointment needs to be right. Sunderland have made too many poor appointments in recent years and that can’t be allowed to happen again.

The fact the club haven’t rushed to announce Grayson’s successor is, while naturally frustrating for fans, refreshing in the sense it suggests that Martin Bain is taking his time to find the right man.

But Bain’s two previous managerial appointments – Moyes and Grayson – will certainly call into question his judgement, and the names linked with the job so far hardly inspire confidence. Ally McCoist, anyone?

This appointment will be a pivotal one in Bain’s time as CEO. He won’t want to be remembered as the man who dragged Sunderland down to the third tier, and so he’ll be eager to ensure he appoints the right man.

Whoever it is that ultimately takes the reigns, they need to get the fanbase on side quickly.

Sunderland undoubtedly have one of the most loyal fanbases in the country, but that loyalty has been pushed to breaking point in recent years. You only have to look at some of the attendances at the Stadium of Light to see just how disillusioned the fans have become.

While an appointment can’t be made on fanbase popularity alone, Bain will no doubt be aware that this appointment could be a way to sway the fanbase back on side – increasing attendances and building up an intimidating atmosphere at the Stadium of Light.

In addition to exciting the fans the new boss will also need to ensure he can inspire a Black Cats squad that isn’t lacking in talent, but is definitely missing some desire.

Neither Moyes nor Grayson were great motivators and failed to get the best out of a Sunderland squad that – for all it has been cobbled together – should have enough ability within their ranks to stay in the Championship.

If the new boss can harness that ability and encourage his side to turn things around when they’re going against Sunderland, then the Black Cats could well pull away from the relegation zone.

But what is clear is that this is about more than just a managerial appointment. There are underlying issues at the club which need resolving.

These won’t be solved overnight and will need everyone – players, staff, shareholders and fans – to pull together.

When that happens, Sunderland fans might not need to search for a smile any more.