Sir Alex recalls striker hunt after Dublin injury

Sunday 26 September 2021 11:00

Legendary former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is the very special guest on our next episode of UTD Podcast, during which he recalls his 1992 search for a centre-forward that eventually led him to Eric Cantona.

Dion Dublin had been signed from Cambridge United in the previous summer and started well, scoring the club's first-ever winning goal in the Premier League with a late close-range effort at Southampton.

Only two games later, the Reds faced Crystal Palace at Old Trafford and Dublin suffered a broken leg in a 1-0 victory. 

A run of three successive blanks in the league helped convince the manager he needed to act to bring in a new striker.

Watch Sir Alex tell the tale of how he came to sign Cantona, in this UTD Podcast video clip.

Speaking to UTD Podcast hosts Helen Evans, Sam Homewood and David May, Sir Alex admitted he considered other options before pulling off the masterstroke of landing Leeds United forward Cantona.

He confirmed former Reds striker Peter Beardsley was a possibility, along with the well-documented interest in Alan Shearer and David Hirst.

When responding to the Dublin injury, he said: "I can't remember the timelines of it but I was at a game in Paris besides Michel Platini and Gerard Houllier and Cantona had been suspended. Michel said to me I should sign Cantona and I said: 'Is there not baggage there?' He said: 'Alex, you'll love him. He's a great lad. He just wants to be wanted.

“Gerard echoed that but, by the time I got back, he was on trial at Sheffield Wednesday with Trevor Francis for a month. He was playing indoor football, something like that, but, come the end of the month, apparently Trevor offered him the chance to stay on and he said I'm not playing this. Trevor was very friendly with Howard [Wilkinson, the Leeds manager] and phoned Howard, who signed him immediately.

“At that time, Lee Chapman had got injured against us just before Christmas - we played them three times in a month and the one we wanted to win, we drew. We won the other two cup ties in the League Cup and FA Cup. So he signed for Leeds.

"As usual, I went for a bath after we played Leeds and Pally [Gary Pallister] and Brucey [Steve Bruce] were sat in the bath talking about him. They said what a player he is, such strength and going on about him and it got in my head. So, that summer, I'd tried to get Alan Shearer. I'd tried David Hirst.

“I was in the chairman [Martin Edwards's] office and suggested we go for Peter Beardsley, who was out of the Everton team at the time. We were about to make a call when we got a call from Bill Fotherby of Leeds, trying to sign Denis Irwin. I said no chance. I wrote on Martin's desk 'Cantona' and he asked Bill: 'What about Eric?' And he he hesitated and said I'll need to ask Howard and I knew. I knew.

“About 15 minutes later, he said okay and they started negotiations over the price. They waned £1.1 million but Martin got to £900,000 actually and it was done like that. I always remember the next day because we were playing City in a derby game and Peter Reid and I had agreed to have lunch with Bob Cass and Joe Melling from the Mail on Sunday at the Portland Hotel. I said I need to go, sorry I can't wait but I may come back. I signed him and he'd be playing on the Saturday. Peter asked where were you and I said I was just away to sign Cantona. He was like don't be daft and I said honestly you'd better know if I'm telling you! I wouldn't have let you leave here!

“So he was sub against City and came on when someone, Brian McClair I think, was injured in the game. He was a fantastic signing."

The special UTD Podcast episode with Sir Alex Ferguson will be released exclusively in the Official App on Monday.

Registered app users will be the first fans to hear the lengthy, absorbing chat with one of the greatest managers in the history of the game.

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