Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan believes manager Steve Bruce is the leading candidate to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
Despite the weekend's shock Premier League defeat to West Brom, Bruce's stock has rocketed this season after surpassing many expectations with the 11th-placed Latics.
That form has seen the former United captain mentioned in the same breath as Jose Mourinho and Martin O'Neill as possible replacements for Ferguson, who could retire at the end of next term.
And while Whelan would be aggrieved to see Bruce leave Wigan, he feels that the ex-England youth international has the credentials to become a success in the hot-seat at Old Trafford.
"United don't seem to appoint foreign managers," Whelan told Sky Sports News. "I can't remember one they have appointed.
"Steve Bruce in my mind is the No.1 to replace Sir Alex. I'd hate to lose him but it will be wonderful for Steve and wonderful for United."
Whelan, though, is optimistic Ferguson will resist the urge to quit at the conclusion of the 2009/10 campaign and hopes that the Scot will continue working into the next decade.
"But it is all on when Sir Alex retire. He is so good. He looks better than ever," added the Wigan supremo.
"He has got that glint in his eye and he is looking like he is enjoying every minute of it. I hope he carries on for another three or four years."
Meanwhile, Whelan has announced a new shirt sponsorship deal with Isle of Man-based gaming and entertainment company, 188BET, but admits it is not a big-money agreement.
He said: "Everyone in football is suffering from the recession. Clubs, newspapers, TV, we are all the same. You used to be able to command £1million to have someone's names on your shirts, but those days are long gone."
Whelan, has also demanded greater regulation on club ownership in the Premier League amidst suggestions the government could set new rules.
He said: "Ownership in the Premier League should be subject to certain tests, and I don't think that has happened. It is time to introduce severe testing for people who want to own clubs.
"The Premier League and the FA have to get involved to make sure people running clubs are honest and genuine and can afford to be there and not put clubs into serious debt like we have at a few clubs now.
"I hope it is self-regulating. I would hope politicians don't intervene because when that happens it is always a cock-up. We will all be claiming expenses we are not allowed, so I don't want politicians involved at all.
"I hope the game can put in the right regulations for people to own clubs."