I love it when Manchester United players show an interest in the club’s history. I want my idols to understand what it means and why it’s important, just like a supporter. That’s why Patrice Evra long ago endeared himself, with his immediate immersion in United’s past when he arrived in 2006, getting out books and DVDs to study the matter.And of course he soon found out just how central to United’s modern identity a certain fellow Frenchman had been: ‘I already knew Cantona was ‘The King’,’ he said recently, ‘but I really discovered who he was when I arrived here’.
It’s extraordinary what a hold Eric Cantona still has over our memories and imaginations, even now some fifteen years after his greatest days. Countless young fans who were hardly born still revere his name and what he stands for, and rightly so.
It’s never healthy to live in the past, but that’s not a reason not to celebrate it, especially when we can see what a powerful inspiration Eric the King still is, for players and supporters alike. It’s not for nothing that the immortal cry of ‘Ooh, Aah Cantona ‘ still echoes round grounds wherever United play.
So, in this spirit I’m going to continue the saga of Eric’s finest season at United, following my earlier eyewitness accounts of key episodes in his career (see under Archive), including the Kung-fu kick in January 1995, his imperious return after his 8 month ban against Liverpool in September ’96, and other milestones as United tried to make up for the missed Double Double of ’95 and go for it in ’96.
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