United have played. When confronted on the issue of his volatile behaviour, he seems keen to explain himself, and his answer once again has a refreshing ring of authenticity about it.
“I have a passion inside me, the passion which leads me to want to create something, a certain fire which I have inside me which demands to be let out. Releasing it is what fuels my success. I couldn’t possibly have that fire without accepting the fact that sometimes it wants to come out to do harm. It does do harm. I do myself harm. I’m aware of doing myself harm, of doing harm to others. I’m aware of letting people down who don’t understand that I cannot be what I am without these other sides to my character.”
But can this change? Can Cantona control his exuberance and keep on the right side of officials and the rulebook? He knows he must. “But I mustn’t refuse what I am,” he insists. “In the past, I’ve tried to correct myself in this respect and each time I have I’ve lost my game, and that defeats the object. What I have to do is find a solution to this problem that doesn’t interfere with my form, and I think I now have. But it’s not something that I can explain or would want to explain. You, the spectators, must see it for yourselves. I will correct this aspect of my game.”
Let us hope, for the sake of the millions of devotees this footballing artist has won over with his flair and his vision, that the solution is a good one and that English football sees a lot more of the skills and the passion of Eric Cantona. But whatever the outcome, home or away, playing or suspended, we’ll support you ever more Eric. We love you. We don’t know why, but we love you.