On 26th November 1992, exactly 18 years ago today, Manchester United announced the shock signing of Eric Cantona for the bargain price of £1.2 Million from our hated rivals and then English Champions Leeds United. Manchester United had been on the lookout for a new striker for months, after failing to sign the likes of David Hirst and Alan Shearer, plus they had lost new signing Dion Dublin to a really bad injury early on into the season. Without doubt, United needed this boost of a new striker and it was well known that Cantona had immense talent and was not being used to the best of his abilities by manager Howard Wilkinson at Leeds United.
Eric Cantona and Manchester United would prove to be the perfect link up, especially under the guidance of Alex Ferguson, who would help bring out the best in Cantona. Despite his hugely controversial moments – the kung fu kick on a fan at Selhurst Park and the sendings off, Cantona was to become a true icon at United and without doubt, one of the best signings Ferguson was to make. Even now, songs about Eric Cantona are still sung by the faithful about Cantona at Old Trafford and at away grounds across the country and on European away trips.
As well as being thankful for the signing of Cantona, we should also be eternally grateful to Trevor Francis and Sheffield Wednesday for refusing to sell us David Hirst, after United offered them a fee rumoured to be around £3 million. Would we be remembering Hirst in the same way and singing songs about him now like we are with Cantona? I really don’t think so. Cantona and Manchester United were clearly meant to be.