Alan Shearer came close to making a remarkable return to management with Championship side Cardiff City, who held talks with the former England captain over the last two days.
The 40-year-old discussed a two-year deal with the Welsh team who were on the brink of appointing Watford's Malky Mackay before Shearer made his interest in the job known. Shearer's sole experience of management came in his short-lived caretaker role with Newcastle United that ended with their relegation in May 2009.
It is understood that Shearer's agent Simon Bayliff was in Cardiff last night negotiating a deal with the club's Malaysian owners. The former Newcastle coach Tommy Craig and Stuart Gray, who played with Shearer at Southampton, and later managed the club, were candidates to be his assistants.
Cardiff were taken over by Malaysian investors in May last year and are now under the chairmanship of investor Dato Chan Tien Ghee – known as "TG" – who sacked manager Dave Jones last month. The process of appointing a manager has been left to chief executive Gethin Jenkins and director Alan Whiteley who had previously been close to appointing Mackay, who impressed at Watford last season.
The club are again one of the favourites for promotion next season having finished fourth last season and any new manager is expected to be given around £20m for transfers and wages.
A Match of the Day pundit since his retirement from playing in 2006, Shearer has turned down a variety of jobs including the chance to be Steve McClaren's assistant when he became England manager in 2006. After the World Cup final last summer he was one of the English coaches suggested to be introduced to Fabio Capello's staff but declined the opportunity to be considered.
The on-loan Manchester City striker – and Cardiff-born crowd favourite – Craig Bellamy had been suggested as a successor to Jones but that always looked remote. Manchester City are resolved to sell the player now and there is little prospect of him returning on loan to Cardiff next season. Bellamy famously fell-out with Shearer when the two played together at Newcastle.
Cardiff are also backed by the billionaire Vincent Tan. There are bold plans for the club to tour the Far East this summer with the hope that the wealthy investors can ease them out of their financial difficulties. They faced two winding-up orders over unpaid tax last year under previous chairman Peter Ridsdale.
The move for Shearer might capture the imagination of Cardiff fans but was a risky choice. He was in charge of Newcastle for only eight games and while he inherited a beleaguered, poorly-motivated group of players, Shearer's team earned just five points from a possible 24. He was given special dispensation then to manage despite not having obtained his Uefa Pro License and as of last night it was not clear whether he had completed his qualification since.
Shearer was linked with the vacant Blackburn Rovers job when Sam Allardyce was sacked in December. His appetite for a career in management has often been questioned because of the comfortable role he fulfils alongside Gary Lineker and Alan Hansen – neither of whom have management ambitions – on Match of the Day. However, it has always been Shearer's intention to be a manager.
His appointment would have added to an interesting pool of managers in the Championship next season, including Allardyce at West Ham, McClaren at Nottingham Forest and Leicester City's Sven Goran Eriksson. Newly-relegated Birmingham City also likely to appoint a high-profile replacement for Alex McLeish. Cardiff reached the FA Cup final in 2008, losing 1-0 to Portsmouth and lost in the play-off finals last year. They were last in the top flight in 1962.