Deepest Red is a unique collection of writing about the myth, madness, and glory that is Manchester United. Bringing together writers, bloggers and journalists to provide fresh insight into the club’s history, this anthology pinpoints the defining moments that have created a global legend.
From Sir Matt to Sir Alex, from standing on the Stretford End to dancing a jig in the Camp Nou, from The Babes to The Golden Generation, these are the stories that matter about the world’s most famous football team. Deepest Red: A Manchester United Anthology.
“…and the Reds go marching on…”
Brian Foley (editor) – Richard Kurt – Andi Thomas – Bernard Niven – Mick Hume – Ben Hibbs – Scott the Red – Barney Chilton – John Paul O’Neill – Darren Richman – Doron Soloman – Andy Mitten – Miguel Delaney – Lucia Zanetti – Joshua Major – Mark Kelleher – Paul Reeve – Will Tidey – Tom Clare – Daniel Harris
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My chapter is on Eric Cantona, mainly focussing on his time at United and the impact he made, but here is an excerpt from the introduction:
Eric Cantona inspired a generation of boys in Manchester and across the country to run around the playground at break and lunch, kicking a ball about, with the collar on their shirt lifted and their chest stuck out. Cantona was just cool. Before the days when flicks and tricks were commonplace in England, Eric could regularly be seen strutting his stuff, showing off his fancy feet and dazzling the crowd. He was a supremely talented footballer who had a wonderful first touch, and could score belters on the volley as well as he could placed shots from distance or headers. His vision was spectacular and his creativity won us games.
Cantona came to United following a chequered past though, with his volatile nature earning him enemies and causing most clubs to overlook his talent because they couldn’t handle the headache he would almost certainly bring.
When he was 20-years-old he retired from the French national team, calling manager Henri Michel an “incompetent shit bag”, after he was left out of the squad for a game against Czechoslovakia in 1988. He later apologised for his outburst but this didn’t stop the French FA banning him from playing for the national team for a year. Fortunately for Cantona, Henri was sacked soon afterwards following poor results and replaced by Michel Platini who saw to it that the ban was rescinded.
However, whilst his international career was on the mend, his club career was about to take its first turn for the worse. After being substituted for Marseille, Cantona kicked the ball in to the crowd and threw his shirt at the referee. They quickly shipped him off on loan to Bordeaux where he played well, but they wanted rid after claiming he repeatedly missed training. Cantona disagreed, insisting he only missed training once on the day his dog died, but he was soon playing for Montpellier on loan. That club suspended him after Cantona overheard Jean-Claude Lemoult criticising his performance, which resulted in Cantona throwing his boots at Lemoult’s head. Cantona had played well though so new Marseille manager, Franz Beckenbauer, requested that Cantona returned to Marseille for the start of the following season. He scored 7 goals in his first 12 games but Beckenbauer fell out with the chairman and was sacked. Cantona then fell out with the replacement manager and was sold to Nimes, where he was named captain.
Cantona was the same as he had always been though and after disagreeing with a referee’s decision, threw the ball at him, then stomped off the field before even seeing the red card that followed. Cantona was hauled in front of the disciplinary committee and banned for four games, a decision the striker obviously disagreed with. Cantona moved around the room, calling every man in there an “idiot”, one by one, before walking out. His ban was increased to two months and he retired from football all together, aged 25…