Former Manchester United striker Michael Owen expects Jose Mourinho to among the leading candidates to replace Sir Alex Ferguson, and says the Real Madrid manager has the credentials to replace the Scot at Old Trafford.

Mourinho and Ferguson go head-to-head on Wednesday evening as Real Madrid host Manchester United in the last 16 of the Champions League, which has prompted renewed chatter about the former eventually succeeding his illustrious counterpart.

The 50-year-old has further stoked the fire ahead of the encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu by stating that his next destination after leaving Real Madrid will be the Premier League, and Owen thinks Mourinho would be a worthy replacement for Ferguson.

"Once Sir Alex Ferguson hangs up his boots there aren’t many managers that are big enough to fill the void left by him," Owen, who played for Manchester United between 2009 and 2012, told talkSPORT.

"You would have to say that Jose Mourinho is one of those few.

"He’s been there, seen it and done it before. His CV is second to none. He’s got the confidence to step into that dressing room and feel he belonged there.

"He’d be one of those select few that have the credentials to take over from Sir Alex Ferguson."

Owen, meanwhile, is one of a very select few of players to have represented both Real Madrid and Manchester United, and is anticipating the Champions League clash as eagerly as anyone else.

But, with Madrid struggling for fluency this season, the former England star senses Los Blancos are there for the taking in the tie of the round.

"It’s very evenly balanced but if I was to nail my colours to the mast I would favour Manchester United," he added the 33-year-old. "Having the second leg at home is a huge advantage, in fact, it could be crucial.

"Man United are going into the encounter in better shape, they’re more of a team at the minute.

"The rumours coming out of Real Madrid are that all is not happy in the camp. When teams are so evenly matched, as these two are, then little details are going to count and Manchester United are in better shape at the moment."

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