Sunderland manager Steve Bruce believes Manchester United will look abroad when they eventually replace Sir Alex Ferguson and expects Jose Mourinho to emerge as a “huge candidate”.

Bruce captained United to the summit of English football under Ferguson and while he sees no end in sight for his former manager, he does not think the Glazer family will recruit from Britain.

“You’d have to say Jose Mourinho would be a huge candidate,” Bruce said. “He’s not lost at home [in the league] for 8½ years. His record speaks for itself.

“Would they go for Mourinho, he’s outspoken? I don’t think they’ll be getting a manager from Aberdeen like last time. The previous regime might have gone for a British manager but I’m not sure now.”

Even though the job could be a poisoned chalice, Bruce – who said “give me a break” when asked about his suitability for United – is convinced there will be no shortage of would-be successors.

“To manage a club of that size for that time-span is mind-blowing,” Bruce added. “His own personal health will determine how long he stays but after speaking to him in the last few weeks he’s certainly got the hunger and the desire is still there.

“But how do you follow that? He’s still got it. It was like with Sir Matt Busby. Whoever can or does, it’s a big challenge.”

Bruce remains an admirer of Ferguson, 68, and the way he has built on his former club’s attacking traditions over the last 24 years.

“I still call him boss, he’s the boss,” Bruce added. “He calls himself the boss as well just to make sure you don’t get carried away.

“They play the Man U, way which is to win, always that’s the way. How often do we see them win late on. It’s endless, countless the games they win late on. Countless.”