A friend of Mick McCarthy has played down talk of the former Sunderland manager returning to the club after he was spotted in South Tyneside.
McCarthy was pictured today in West Boldon, sparking speculation that the 59-year-old could be returning to the Black Cats as Chris Coleman's replacement.
A pal of the football boss, however, say that McCarthy was in the region to check up on his property portfolio.
McCarthy, who left Ipswich Town earlier this month, popped into the Cooper Sunderland BMW garage at West Boldon today, to view its selection of motors.
And he also visited The Travelling Man pub next door, where he caught up with manager and old friend Alan Crooks.
McCarthy had lunch and mingled with pub locals, who quizzed him about the manager’s job, made vacant with Coleman’s dismissal yesterday as Ellis Short sold the club to an international consortium
Alan, whose boozer has just won travel website TripAdvisor’s certificate of excellence for the fourth year running, said: “Mick is an old friend of my late aunty and uncle.
“He was up here to check on his properties and came here for lunch and to say hello.
“One of the punters did ask him about the manager’s job and told Mick that he would be perfect for it.
“Mick was very diplomatic about and took it all in good heart, but that is not what he was in the area for.
“He had his photo taken at the BMW garage which was posted on social media, and it’s all gone a bit crazy since with lots of speculation.
“In fact, it’s had the effect of him now being the favourite with the bookies but it’s just not true that he’s interested in the job.
“It’s all a bit ridiculous and the phone hasn’t stopped ringing, I think it’s all a bit embarrassing for him.”
McCarthy managed the Black Cats between 2003 and 2006 and went on to manage Wolverhampton Wanderers and Ipswich.
Coleman’s shock dismissal, announced amid owner Short’s decision to sell the club, has led to a flurry of speculation about who will manage the team in League One next season.
Other bookmakers’ favourites include Leicester City’s assistant manager Michael Appleton, Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder, and ex-Manchester United defender Jaap Stam.