Crerand perhaps felt so strongly because he saw in Cantona some of his own feisty characteristics. "I really appreciated that fire Eric had, it was part of what made him," Paddy says. "You have to have that, in my opinion anyway. If you look at the great players of Manchester United a lot of the time you have that desire to be a winner, and sometimes that manifests itself with an uncompromising determination.
"Look at Wayne Rooney – when he goes in for a tackle I shut my eyes! He’s as bad as Paul Scholes… no, he’s not that bad! Eric had that fiery side too and to a large extent I don’t think there’s any harm in it if, in general, you control it. After that incident Eric did control it, he harnessed it and it made him a better player."
Cantona's misdemeanours enhanced his mystique, though he quite evidently possessed something more than mere ability to play a pretty pass or score important goals. He was the ultimate showman and as such Crerand pays the Frenchman one of the finest compliments he could: "In all my time at Old Trafford, I've never seen any player who had an impact like Eric Cantona did.
"There are legends like Bobby Charlton, Best, Law, who I played with, and modern day greats like Giggs and Scholes, who are part of the fabric of the club – great servants and great players. Unsurpassed in many ways. But Eric just had something extra – it went beyond being a fantastic footballer. It was the charisma, the showmanship: he was the most influential player on the fans I have ever seen at Old Trafford.