In Cantona’s 5 years at Old Trafford he proved a thorn in the side of Liverpool as United attempted to overthrow their rivals as the country’s top side. He didn’t mind a goal against Liverpool either, scoring upon his return from the infamous ‘kung fu kick’ ban times as well as grabbing a late winner in the 1996 FA Cup final.
The Frenchman was known to be problematic and enigmatic, this didn’t change upon joining United, but his onfield contribution was huge and overshadowed this. (Un)fortunately Hughes was caught unawares by the impact Cantona would have, writing him off as a ‘flash foreigner’ in a column in the Daily Mirror at the time:
“A master stroke… that’s what some people are saying about Manchester United’s signing of Eric Cantona. “Me? I say it’s a panic buy. One last frantic roll of the dice to see if the Frenchman can hit the jackpot for Alex Ferguson.
“It could either win him something this season or cost him his job. Break the bank – or bust him. And I’ll admit when I heard the news, I was simply staggered. Cantona looks the business but, in my opinion, he’s a flashy foreigner. He’ll score two goals for United… when they are two up. But don’t look for him to get in there when it hurts or to decide a game and be a matchwinner.
“For Fergie to sign a player who looked as if he was being phased out at Elland Road suggests he pushed the panic button. What he has done represents perhaps the biggest transfer gamble of his career at the club.
“Alan Shearer was his man. Should have been and Fergie is now getting stick from the fans for missing him. He has to expect it and now he is forced to go clutching at straws. If United win the League, then it will prove to be the best buy of all.. but if they don’t…”
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