Roy Keane is being linked with a return to club management once again, with the Irishman at the centre of a story featuring a former Manchester United team-mate.
Steve Bruce’s future as West Bromwich Albion manager is under a cloud after his side’s 1-0 defeat at Preston on Monday night, with Keane’s presence in the stands at Deepdale for that match fuelling rumours that he could be a contender to take over.
The former Sunderland boss has been out of club management since leaving Ipswich in January 2011 and has expressed doubts over whether he will make a return to coaching as he admits his explosive reputation counts against him with club owners.
“I’m a bit wary of shutting any doors on myself by saying, ‘Oh, I won’t go back into it’. Obviously, the chances are getting less and less as the months go by,” stated Keane earlier this year.
“I’d still like an opportunity. When I say the right opportunity – it has to be the right opportunity.
“I think every negotiation is different. I wouldn’t be setting a stone down and going, ‘It’s got to be a three-year deal, or it’s got to be in a certain area’. No. I think you have to speak to clubs, and get that vibe, and see what they’ve got to say to you.”
Former Sunderland midfielder David Meyler played under Keane and he is convinced he can make a success of a return to the dug-out.
"Sometimes the media portray an image of someone and it sticks, but it's only when you get to know someone that you appreciate there is a different side to someone like Roy Keane," Meyler stated.
"The perception we have of people is not always right and that's certainly the case with Roy.
"We all know he doesn't hide his feelings and some people don't like that side of him, but now they are seeing Roy for who he really is.
"You look at the interview Roy did with Gary Neville or the little videos he does with Micah Richards, and you might have a different view of him. That shows the side of Roy Keane I have known in my time with him at Sunderland and then with Ireland.
"There is a human being there, and he is not just this fella who is always angry. He is a great personality.
"People might have a different view of Keane now. I hope they do.
"They might have thought they knew Roy, but then they see him chatting in a different way about all aspects of his life, and they understand there is a man who has a lot more to him than some people believe.
"And who knows, it might help him get back into management if people realise he is not as bad as he has been made out to be down the years."
Bruce remains convinced he is the right man to revitalise West Brom after the Baggies dropped into the relegation zone following a defeat at Preston on Wednesday.
The Baggies were punished for a characteristically sluggish start at Deepdale. Emil Riis scored after seven minutes, the seventh time in 12 league matches Bruce’s side have conceded the opening goal inside the opening quarter of an hour.
Bruce accepted his side’s record of falling behind early is “ludicrous” – but vowed to fight on if the axe doesn’t fall before Saturday’s meeting with Luton.
Preston boss Ryan Lowe, whose team climbed four places to 11th following a first home win this term, came to Bruce’s defence, calling the former Manchester United defender a “top guy and a top manager”.
Bruce, however, concedes his future is out of his hands. West Brom mustered 18 shots against Preston but created only a handful of clear openings.
“We are all judged on results and they haven’t been good enough,” said Bruce, whose side have won only one of 12 Championship fixtures this term. “I will do my utmost to turn it around.
“I still believe we are capable of going on a run with the players we have – but at the moment, everybody is finding it tough.
“That (my future) is for other people. I hope (I will still be in charge at the weekend), I still think I am the right one to turn it around.
“I have done it before, especially at this level, I am convinced (I am the right man).
“I don’t give up, not when it is tough. I don’t have to do it. But I still get up in the morning and want to come to work.
“It still burns inside me, especially when it is like it is at the minute.
“But I hope I am given the time. If not, I fully understand I haven’t been able to arrest a slide that has gone on for two-and-a-half years.”