of greatness if Roy Evans can keep it together. United are clearly in transition, experimenting with young players who may take another couple of seasons to fully mature."
What followed from the first whistle was simply unbelievable. In only the 67th second, United drew first blood against the biggest of rivals with Cantona inevitably involved in teeing up Nicky Butt's opener. Robbie Fowler's two-goal salvo looked to be earning him the mantle of party-pooper extraordinaire before the main man took centre stage once again with 20 minutes left.
Ryan Giggs was flattened by Jamie Redknapp and David Elleray's decision to point to the spot allowed Cantona to nervelessly beat David James and celebrate in front of his adoring public. The mixture of relief and elation was obvious from the returning hero. "This was a moment of gladness not madness," commented the Daily Mail's Alan Fraser. "A moment for celebrations not recriminations. Here was the smiling face of the man from the moon. The dark side will be seen soon enough."
The Reds would have to settle for a 2-2 draw, leaving opposing boss Evans to complain bitterly afterwards: "It is a sad story when the referee thinks he has equal billing with Eric Cantona. I thought Cantona passed the test but the referee did not. We deserved more than we got. We lost two points on a dodgy decision."
The United manager preferred to focus on Cantona, even though he was weary of the attention being lavished on his influential centre-forward. "Eric did well," he stressed. "He's tired, of course, but he can be pleased with his performance. And the hype's over - thank goodness."