Manchester United legend Eric Cantona has revealed that his former club rejected what would have been a sensational return to Old Trafford after the Frenchman offered his services to the Red Devils.
Cantona is a Premier League great, lighting up English shores between 1992 and 1997 with Leeds and then Man United. The former Red Devil was an instant hit in England, winning the league in his first campaign (1991/1992, the last season England’s top-flight was known as the First Division). He then took the league title with him to Manchester the following season as United won the first season of the Premier League era.
Cantona would become the first player to win England’s top-flight in two consecutive seasons with two different clubs. In fact, he was the only player to do so until another certain Frenchman repeated the trick: N’Golo Kante.
Despite his legendary status at Man United, Cantona revealed to The Athletic that the Club rejected his proposal of a return in a presidential role. The Frenchman saw his bid to change the football club knocked back, claiming he knows football and that the United hierarchy don’t.
“Last year, I proposed to the club to change their way,” said Cantona.
“Ed Woodward is great at marketing but not great at football. United should have a chairman and then they should have a president of marketing and then a president of football, who is in charge of all the decisions in football. So I proposed to them that I should be president of football.
“I met him a few times. But they did not accept it! I still think me or somebody else, they should have somebody for football. It should be somebody from the club, who knows football and the club.”
“Yes, but it is not a president of football,” says Cantona in response to the interviewer pointing out that United do now have a director of football.
“Since Ferguson retired in 2013, the club doubled their revenue but didn’t win anything (United have won the Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup since Ferguson but not a PL or UCL). So imagine if you succeed in football and also have great people in marketing, then instead of doubling the revenue, then you would treble it. But they do not understand that. The club spends a lot of money. But you have to spend it well.”
Cantona’s return certainly would have excited the fans, but given the history of controversy surrounding the Frenchman, we understand why they opted against the homecoming.
After the appointment of new United manager Erik Ten Hag, the board may have feared Cantona’s presence around the Club would clash with the former Ajax coach, and may be a distraction for the players.
Imagine Cantona giving the players a rollicking when they were 4-0 down to Brentford at halftime in August. Limbs would have been thrown.