Alan Shearer's installation as Newcastle manager has been seen by many as a foregone conclusion for years.

Successive occupants of the St James' Park hot-seat have set to work rightly or wrongly amid the perception that they were doing so in the shadow of the Geordie legend with the latest, Sam Allardyce, admitting Shearer could easily succeed him one day.

It is unlikely that the former Bolton boss would have expected a vacancy to arise within eight months of his appointment, but when it did this evening, the name of the 37-year-old former Saints starlet and England captain was immediately thrust to the top of the bookmakers' list of potential candidates.

Shearer eased in the betting as talk started to circulate that the Magpies were looking to appoint an experienced British manager with Portsmouth's former Saints boss Harry Redknapp and Terry Venables figuring prominently, although not Steve McClaren.

As the rumour-machine slipped into top gear, the man himself, perhaps fortuitously, was out of the country on holiday and a safe distance from all the speculation.

There is little doubt that Shearer would be a popular appointment with fans who worshipped him as a player and remember Kevin Keegan's messianic return to St James' Park with immense fondness.

However, despite the fact he has already gained his UEFA B and A coaching licences, he has no managerial experience.

The former Dell star - he played for Saints from 1988 until his £3.3m move to Blackburn in the summer of 1992 - has found himself under pressure in recent weeks to distance himself from the job amid intense speculation over Allardyce's future, but has remained silent - and many would argue that whatever he said had he spoken out, it would have done little to quell talk of his candidacy.

Shearer has repeatedly been questioned about his management ambitions, and while he has admitted he wants to return to football one day, he has remained non-committal about just when.

In November, he said: "I would not have spent three years doing my A Licence and my B Licence if I did not think I would need them at some stage in my career or in my life.

"It does interest me, but when that time will be, I could not really tell you.

"I am happy in what I am doing, but if I got to 50 or 55 and I had not given it a go, I think there would be something missing.

"When that time will be, your guess is as good as mine."

The persistent links with Newcastle, however, have caused him some discomfort.

He said: "Unfortunately, I cannot do anything about that because of what I have done in the last 10 or 11 years with Newcastle.

"I do live here so I am going to be seen around, I am going to be at the games.

"Unfortunately, I cannot do anything about that, that's other people putting two and two together and sometimes coming up with the wrong answer.

"At times, it is not nice, but I cannot do anything about it."

Fresh calculations were once again being made on the streets of Tyneside this evening as a man who freely admits he has been enjoying his retirement as a player found himself in the spotlight once again.

Should the call come, he would have a major decision to make, not just over taking the step into management, but over putting his hard-earned status as a folk hero on the line.

Asked about retirement, he said: "I am really enjoying it. It is keeping me busy, but I am also able to do what I want to do, which is have a bit of spare time and play a bit of golf and go away in the school holidays with the kids.

"I am busy, but I don't mind that because it takes your mind off not playing, which is all I have done since was 15.

"To just walk away from all that was probably not as hard as I thought it would be, to be honest, and that is one of the reasons why."