Alex McLeish believes Aston Villa are paying the price for years of poor recruitment and firing too many managers.
McLeish managed Villa in the 2011-12 Premier League season, moving from local rivals Birmingham City who were relegated under his tenure.
His history with Birmingham made McLeish an unpopular choice with the Villa faithful and he had his contract terminated in May 2012, after securing Villa's Premier League survival with 38 points while working with a limited budget and having to make do without star players Ashley Young and Stewart Downing, who were signed by Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.
Statistically, McLeish was the club's worst manager with a win percentage of just 21.4 per cent.
Current Villa manager Remi Garde could beat that, given his side are bottom of the table, 11 points from safety, and the Frenchman is yet to win a Premier League match.
But McLeish believes Villa's predicament is bigger than any one manager, labelling their current position "frightening".
"It is frightening to say the least that this is the position Villa are in," McLeish told the Daily Mirror.
"While they stayed in the league for the last three or four years I thought it would have helped in terms of the financial stability of the club.
"Sometimes you have to go a step back to go two forwards but it has gone from bad to worse. That is what surprised me since I left, that it hasn't gone forward.
"I would have thought the plan would have enabled them to have got better but it has been a complete struggle since.
"Recruitment has been difficult because of high wages and enormity of fees for English-based players. Therefore every potential new player has to be scrutinised very closely.
"[CEO] Tom Fox said Remi would be in charge for the foreseeable time and spoke of a bright future. But it is going to be a bit doom and gloom for a while before it gets brighter.
"Perhaps if Villa go down, and it looks likely, maybe it can be a new dawn of spawning any good youngsters they have coming through their academy."
Should Villa go down, it would end a 28-year stint in the top flight of English football.
After four straight top-10 finishes between 2008 and 2011, the club have not managed to finish outside the bottom five since.