Paul Parker talks exclusively to ManUtd.com about his former team-mate Eric Cantona...
Eric was different. He played in a way that added something different to what we had. We were already a very good team but we failed in 1991/92 when it mattered most – in the run-in.
We were all inexperienced at it and didn’t have anything different to give really. People stopped us by being negative from the important March and Easter period. It doesn’t matter who you are when you have got teams going for it and being negative. It stopped our run and, when you’re losing to Nottingham Forest at home and Nigel Clough is at centre-half, you know you’ve got problems.
So we went out to make amends in the following season to go strongly again. To make that bit of difference, the boss signed Dion Dublin but it was unfortunate that he got injured against Crystal Palace. People say it was Dion getting injured that forced the boss to do something but I think he’s a bit cleverer than that. He was always moving to something long in advance and saw something in a player viewed as an enigma at Leeds and a problem player.
Howard Wilkinson is a school-teacher who got fed up putting Eric in the corner. Wilkinson decided for Leeds to progress as a team, it was in his best interests to get him out. The Leeds manager couldn’t handle him as a player because he wanted to be an individual as much off the pitch as on it.
Manchester United have always had players in that vein with swagger and arrogance - problem players off the pitch are often artists on it. Eric was difficult but Sir Alex was able to control it. We appreciated what he did for us as a player and a person. He may have had mood swings, wore different clothes and do different things but we loved and respected him as a player and we knew what he was like. He was an individualist – everybody else would turn up in club gear and he’d always have a different slant to it. He’d wear red Nike trainers and was wearing slim ties