secured with him in l993/94 — then lost without him in the wake of Selhurst — was regained last season upon his return.
During last season. Cantona seemed a more mellow character. chastened by the event and its aftermath. Often he would walk away from trouble on the pitch or even act as peacemaker. ‘I often get asked about the change in my temperament since the incident at (‘rystal Palace,’ he says in a new book, Cantona 0n Cantona. ‘The truth is that there hasn‘t been such a big change. People think I‘ve suddenly learned to feel at ease with myself. but the fact of the matter is that l was never ill at ease in the ﬁrst place.
‘1 do, however, have a little more experience now. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and I seem to be able to cope better with situations like that. But who knows? I don’t know what I will be like in the future. None of us can know that for sure. I’d hesitate to say what happened was a mistake, or that it was foolish or silly. It was far too complicated to be characterised in such simplistic terms.’
Still no apology there.
‘There was a time when I would lose my temper regularly, when I felt that I had to stand up and say something about the things that
‘People think I’ve suddenly learned to feel at ease with myself, but the fact of the matter is that I was never ill at ease in the first place.’
Own goa : Cantona scores in his first movle la Bonheur
made me angry,’ he adds. ‘I used to take a stand and rage against injustice all the time. Now I know how things will turn out and that has taken the fun out of losing my temper.’
This season, however, the questions are being asked and warning signs of the old spiteful behaviour are surfacing. A billboard appeared outside Old Trafford a month or so ago wondering ‘Where is Eric‘?’. lt alluded to the grand opening of United’s latest business venture, the Red Cafe, but it might just as well have referred to the team’s performances. United have floundered of late, with an almost unheard-off three Premiership defeats in succession, along with the loss of a proud 40-year unbeaten home record in European competition to the Turkish team Fenerbahce. Cantona’s form, or lack of it, has been central.
lt coincides with his elevation to the captaincy, as well as more frequent appearances on our screens. First there was the Nike advert: ‘Au revoir,’ he said with disdain, turning up his collar and despatching a football ﬁreball through the guts of a demonic goalkeeper. Now there is the Eurostar train commercial, for which he was reportedly paid £200,000, which sees him in soft focus wondering if a bird who
ERIC CANTONA FEATURE
Cantona on . .. Imm-
As far as I’m concerned. women are a lot more intelligent than men. They’re more intuitive. That’s why women are striding ahead . . . We’ve always been taught that men are supposed to be macho, that they’re supposed to be more powerful; but as time goes on, we’re realising that women are a lot more competent than men.
There was a time when I used to lose my temper with referees. Not so much when they made honest mistakes: mistakes I can tolerate. After all, I make mistakes too; we’re all human. But when I felt that there was an element of dishonesty, my sense of fair play would be offended.
Above all, I need to be free. I don’t like to feel constrained by rules or restrictions . . . To some extent I espouse the idea of anarchy. But it’s never quite anarchy, there’s always a little bit of order there. What I’m really after is an anarchy of thought, a liberation of mind from all convention.
The more the media try to manipulate opinion against me, the more people like me. When journalists attack me they show their true colours. They reveal their hand, and people are shocked. I’m a living witness to the fact that people are beginning to understand how power works.
I’ve said in the past that I could play single- handedly against eleven players and win. I believe in myself. Sometimes it’s crazy, I know. Give me a bicycle and I believe that I can beat Chris Boardman’s one-hour record.
The cinema is another of my enduring passions. Some day, I’d love to make ﬁlms myself — I’d like to have the talent to direct . . . One day I know l’ll have a go.
If there is something that frightens me, it’s the idea that one day I’ll die, that some day I’ll simply disappear. It’s not so much that I’m afraid of death itself, it’s more that I love life too much.
All quotations taken from Cantona 0n Cantona, by Eric C antona and Alex Flynn, published by Andre Deutsch at £14. 99.
is free sings more sweetly than one in the cage.
Now Le Bonheur, the movie, ﬁlmed during the summer of his ban, is premiered at the French Film Festival before beginning longer runs at the Glasgow Film Theatre and Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh from 6 December. It sees Cantona as a rugby-playing country boy. ‘Cantona has a naturalness and a truth rather like Pagnol’s characters,’ says the ﬁlm’s director, Etienne Chatiliez. ‘Eric puts himselfin front of the camera as if it were a penalty shot, saying, “Damn it, I’ve got to get this goal.” He really goes for it.’
The List l5-28 Nov 1996 7