Manchester United favourite Eric Cantona believes Old Trafford is the perfect stage for his return to the spotlight with New York Cosmos.Frenchman Cantona won four English Premier League titles and two FA Cups with United before hanging up his boots in 1997.
In January he was appointed director of soccer for the revamped Cosmos, a former National American Soccer League team hoping to orchestrate a return to action in Major League Soccer.
A Cosmos team consisting of 12 special guests and eight Under-23 players will tackle Cantona’s old side on Friday, in a testimonial for the retired Paul Scholes.
“Every time I come back to Manchester and go to Old Trafford it’s always special for me and this time it will be even more special,” Cantona said.
“For my comeback in football, the first game I will be involved in is with the Cosmos and at Old Trafford so it’s very special for me.”
Scholes called time on his United career in May after 17 seasons with the club, three of which he spent alongside Cantona, who has found memories of his former team-mate.
“I hope everybody will have a great time and especially Paul Scholes,” Cantona said.
“He has been a great player who can play anywhere in the midfield, upfront … he can score goals, assist, he can defend, he can tackle … so he’s a great player and I’m very proud to be here for him.”
Cantona was asked if he harboured any ambitions to take over from manager Sir Alex Ferguson in the United hot seat, a question the 45-year-old met with humour and diplomacy.
“Maybe I die before Alex Ferguson,” he said, jokingly. “I’m sure he will be on the bench for ever because this is his life.”
“He was a good player, he has been a great manager for decades and that’s his life. And me I’m involved in New York and I don’t want to move.”
Cantona also passed judgement on United’s cross-city rivals Manchester City, questioning the merits and sustainability of their big-spending transfer policy.
“United is the best team,” he said. “I don’t know how they (Manchester City) work now, maybe they work on an academy.”
“But for now they want to be the team spending millions to buy players for the team. And they have been successful because they won the FA Cup.”
“But if they only want to do that they will not be as strong as United, because United work on the long term, encouraging young talents.”