SIR ALEX BACKS ROY'S RETURN
Sir Alex Ferguson admits he is surprised to see Roy Keane enter the world of management so soon after retiring over the summer, but his former mentor is sure that Sunderland is a superb opportunity for the fiery Irishman.
Keane may be appointed Black Cats boss in time for the Bank Holiday game with West Brom after it emerged on Wednesday night that he had been in talks with former Republic of Ireland colleague Niall Quinn.
The shock move comes just two months after the legendary midfielder retired from playing whilst at Celtic, bringing an end to a glorious career that included a trophy-laden 12 years with Ferguson at Old Trafford.
Although their famous partnership was brought to an acrimonious end last season, the Scot has always tipped his former charge to be a force in the managerial community after Keane displayed his leadership qualities and indomitable spirit as he became the driving force behind United's incredible success in the 1990s.
Whilst Ferguson admits he was slightly taken aback at the speed of Keane's introduction to the cut-and-thrust world of management, he is fully aware that such a chance may never have reared its head again.
"It's a bit earlier than I thought," said Ferguson on Sky Sports News.
"But in some cases in football, tomorrow may never come.
"The opportunity is there to take the job and, if he is taking it, maybe that's uppermost in his mind.
"You don't want to be out of the game too long.
"I got the same advice when I was quitting playing, in case these moments pass you by."
Whilst Ferguson set off on his management career path with Scottish minnows East Stirling in 1974, Keane is on the brink of joining a club with a 49,000 seater stadium and high expectations of a swift return to the top flight.
With a setup worthy of The Premiership, Ferguson is sure that Sunderland is a fantastic place for the enigmatic Keane to learn his trade, but the United boss had words of warning for the Irishman about the nature of the modern game for a young managerial hopeful.
"Sunderland is a great club with a great history, a fantastic support base and a good stadium," Ferguson added.
"Everything is there and apparently they've got a fantastic training ground. It's got most of the things correct about them.
"It wouldn't be easy, I don't think being a manager is today, it doesn't matter where you are.
"The way football is structured in terms of the media, agents, freedom of contract and players' power nowadays, it's completely different.
"It's not easy getting a job nowadays."
Ferguson also backed Keane's plan to appoint former Manchester United number two Brian Kidd as his assistant at The Stadium of Light.
"He knows Brian and that's probably the route most people would go down to take someone they know."