them on board. I knew whatever I said I couldn't make him change his mind.
"Whereas the previous time when he needed help, I managed to turn him around. Eric basically believes that he must go out at the top. Now he's gone, I don't feel let down. There can't be any recriminations in my heart.
"We've had some great players at this club and when the end has come we have just had to get on with life. The fans are going to have great memories of him, and so will I.
"Eric's influence has been absolutely marvellous. He came at the right time to give us his vision. I think we might have won that first title anyway, but he gave us the composure and the crucial goals to pull it off.
"The years of Eric Cantona have been great for all of us," admitted the boss. "He has had a huge impact on the development of our younger players. Eric has been a model professional and he has been a joy to manage. He's certainly one of the most gifted and dedicated players that I've ever had the pleasure of working with.
"Whenever fans discuss United's greatest-ever side, you can be sure that for many, Eric's name will be very high on the list. He leaves with our best wishes and he will always be welcome at Old Trafford. He has left us with so many wonderful memories."
For his part, Cantona issued only a brief statement to the media before eventually opting to pursue an acting career and enjoying more success in that field.
"I have played professional football for 13 years, which is a long time," he said. "I now wish to do other things. I always planned to retire when I was at the top and at Manchester United I have reached the pinnacle of my career.