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Manchester United legend Eric Cantona has expressed his concern over whether the club can remain at the pinnacle of European football once Sir Alex Ferguson retires.

On the surface, everything is rosy at United. They might have endured a dodgy start to the season, but they did they the same last term and ended up champions of England and Europe.

With 17 league titles now under their belts and just one more required to match the once-unreachable benchmark set by Liverpool, what could possibly dull the mood at Old Trafford?

Money, is the simple answer. The Red Devils are £600million in debt and, for perhaps the first time in the Premier League era, find themselves having to tread quite lightly on the financial front. Such problems are not only certain to cause ticket prices to rise even further, but they could also bring about the gradual disintegration of United's superstar squad if things get any worse.

It seems only a matter of time before Cristiano Ronaldo jets off to Real Madrid. And while money might - just might - be secondary in that situation, that is certainly not the case with Carlos Tevez.

The Argentine forward was set to pen a permanent deal during the summer, but the deadline-day purchase of Dimitar Berbatov left the well of transfer funds rather drier than expected. Thus, Tevez looks likely to serve the remainder of his two-year loan deal before United stump up the £32million or so required to purchase him from Media Sports Investment - meaning other clubs could potentially swoop in.

Most of the fans are not terribly worried at the moment, as they are confident the club will continue to challenge for top honours while Ferguson is at the helm. However, the legendary Scot has said he is likely to hang up his managerial mantle within the next three years - and what then for the Red Devils?

Cantona is one of those looking ahead to post-Ferguson United, and he is more than a little worried at what the future holds for his former club.

Concerned

“I can understand why the fans are concerned. The philosophy of the club will never change while Alex Ferguson is at the club. After he leaves . . . that's what makes me worry,†the Frenchman said in The Sun.

“Ferguson is so strong, so popular, he can control everything. For the moment nothing has changed there — apart from in an economic way.

“I'm worried about the future. I hope that things will not change.â€

Cantona is one among many ex-United stars to have been touted as Ferguson's potential successor, along with the likes of Roy Keane, Paul Ince and Mark Hughes. Filling the post will only be half the problem, however, as there remains the small matter of the new manager not only making his mark on the team, but also on the club and its directors.

For paramount to Ferguson's success has been his no-frills relationship with his 'superiors'. He has never compromised his own role to please the higher-ups, and the understanding he has forged with the Glazer family is something Rafael Benitez could only dream of replicating at Anfield.

So will it all fall apart when Ferguson leaves the Red Devils? Will the enormous empire that has been built over the last two decades suddenly crumble when the Glaswegian withdraws his considerable presence? In other words, will the United die-hards who protested the Glazers' arrival back in 2005 be proven right?

FC United

A key element of the protesters' campaign was the foundation of FC United of Manchester, the semi-professional club which is vying for promotion to Conference North this season. The idea behind the organisation was to provide loyal Man U fans with an alternative to the foreign-owned franchise their team has become - in essence to create a club founded for the fans, by the fans.

Cantona is a huge supporter of FC United, as he believes their roots and their modus operandi are a pure and untainted throwback to how clubs were originally reared and run.

He added: “They have a great idea. I hope they will become a great club and win the European Cup in 50 years' time.

“Every club has to be created at one point. Now I am interested in the people who create clubs. Which type of people created Manchester United or Manchester City?.â€

It is impossible to say whether FC United will push on toward continental glory in the distant future; but there are signs that their premonitions of United the first being beset by unmanageable debts could come into fruition - especially if UEFA introduce their proposed licensing system, which will see clubs booted out of European competition if they spend beyond their means.
 
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Before anyone says " It's in the Sun what a load of crap etc" i can confirm it was from an interview, quoted word for word, that King Eric gave to 4-4-2 Magazine, November issue out this month.

I know people that were there and knew this would be coming out soon , as Jazz can confirm as i told him all about it.

Eric talks a hell of a lot of sense and is someone who really " gets it" when he talks about United and football in general, he understands where football is going and has seen, for years, the future of United.

I think out of every player that ever played for United that he is the one player whose heart is the deepest RED. He understands where United came from, our history and our passion, what United really means, that the supporters are United not the brand, what United means to the supporters who have been bled dry and sees well beyond the " well we are doing alright on the pitch and winning trophies" crap.

He's made many a public comments about FC United of Manchester, understanding our principals and been a big FCUM supporter from the start.

TOP RESPECT TO THE KING !!!
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I agree sal!!!


Not only he has eyes for man utd but the way he talk, the way he handled interview..they are just way too classy and a character that is very hard to explain with words, its like when he talks..everyone have to listen...professional is nothing when talking about Eric.. Right deep inside my little heart, no matter what anyone says, im still hoping that one day..he might join man utd back staff room..or better being the gaffer successor himself..its a waste if he doesnt.
 

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I think everyone is feeling the same worries about when Fergie leaves the club. But as it is with players United will always remain no matter who is our manager. But we can just look at some of the other PL clubs who have had new managers who pretty much ruined a couple of years with a poor job. But I cant worry about something that can be one day away or 5 years. When Ferguson leaves it'll be a different United no matter what. It can be as good with a new manager as it is today.

What worries me more is the fact that contracts are getting out of time. I read a comment from a player a few weeks ago about the 'pride of playing for a club'. He told that players of today have no 'pride for the club', they are just regular workers who heads where they got the best paycheck.
I even read that players and agents are already looking to make contracts not valid anymore. This summers actions have just been the dying moments of the old times. Major tournaments are often a shopping window for clubs and the best stage for players to earn new lucrative contracts.
Next major tournament is 2010 in South Africa and by that the football could be history as we know it today and Ronaldo and Blatter wishes will come true.
 

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yes.. im really worried about this.. The next manager might not bring any
trophies to us. SAF is the greatest and no one can step up on his shoes,
i think cantona is right. So he needs to help united continue the king of
england and king of europe!

We need YOU KING CANTONA!
 

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for years i was worried when SAF left it was gonna be the busby thing all over again..great manager leaves and takes years. well decades to get back to those heights again. you have to admit recently though the game has changed beyond all recognition...more money and more global. with that in mind i'm no longer concerned as we can effectively trawl most of europe ( and the world) for a top manager and know one is going to come and also go and attract the top players still ( evenwith chelsea and now citteh billions plyers still choose to come here) so with that in mind am not as concerned as i used to be.
 

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Tbh, I don't know anyone who feels 100% certain that everything will be ok when Sir Alex leaves.

Of course, there are World Class managers who, ability wise, could manage Man Utd. But the fact is, managing Man Utd is more than that.

There are loads of managers throughout the World. But its getting the right manager thats the problem, and picking a manager who can cope with the pressure from the board, the supporters and who can manage with the high standards that the supporters expect, and the high amount of pressure, and who can cope with the Media as well.

An ex player may seem the best option, somone who knows the club, supporters, and the expectations and someone who will get, or as close as can be expected, the full support of the supporters. But they need to have earned it.

I thought the best option would have been to try to get someone, like a Laurent Blanc, or Laudrup, to become assistant with the promise of becoming manager when Sir Alex retires. That way, they could have learned from Sir Alex, learned about the club and formed a relationship with the board, the players and supporters, and then they could have stepped in, which would have offered the stability we need.

But thats past now, and in all honesty, theres nobody currently at the club who could step in atm.

And as much as we adore Sir Alex, I think the best thing for the club is what he says he'll do. Leave altogether. Becoming a director, or advisor, or something along those lines, would offer an unnecessary pressure. The new man is going to be under enough pressure, and will be phased with enough comparisons with Sir Alex, and Sir Matt Busby to an extent, without having Sir Alex sitting watching over him.

But whatever happens, and whoever takes over, they need support and they need time, no matter how good the squad is at the time. We need to avoid becoming a Newcastle or Real Madrid, who act like a circus and sack theirs managers too often and too readily. We need as much stability as possible, and continually sacking managers is not the option.
 

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I am also concerned about life after Fergie. The person who takes over from him will have a hell of a job on his hands. Talk about a hard act to follow!

The success we have had under Fergie is almost unparalleled anywhere else in the football World. I just hope that after Fergie leaves we stick by the new manager (unless an obvious mistake has been made) because the last thing we need at the club is a revolving door of managers coming in and out.
 

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Whoever come into replace SAF is going to have a massive task on their hands. He's been the most sucessful manager in the clubs history and for anyone to come in and try to emulate his is going to be difficult.

As far as what Eric said goes I think he talks a lot of sense. I'm sure he speaks for most United fans when he says he is concered for United's future post-Fergie and who will be able to replace such an iconic man.

I also respect the fact that he supports FCUM. It would have been easy for him not to give a straight answer or avoid the question because he didn't want to upset anyone but in true Cantona style he gave his honest opinion.

I really hope he does come back to United one day in some way wether it be as a manager, assistant or just as a coach.
 

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Eric does make sense.Its quite strange how he feels this connection with FC United.They are a breakaway of fans through which can mainly be described as football 'politics' (yet i know a few who have been at OT one week then FC United the week after....so much for boycotting!!)I think they are more like 150 years from UEFA success.Anyhoo,life after Fergie will be dismal for a tiny time,but its GOING to happen and its not as if hes jsut upped and left and were in the doo doo creak with no paddle.I thikthey will have been looking to options for the last 3/4 years,andwho ever it is im sure will be put there for right reasons!Maybe another ''Fergie-esq'' unkown lurks in the wings,ready to pounce on his throne!!
 

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I think Eric has accurately reflected the sentiments shared by the fans. Who wouldn't be concerned after all these years under the same manager who has given us our most successful years?

Granted that, I do expect us to 'suffer' for a while when Fergie leaves; honest to goodness. No matter how careful we prepare the taking over of the reins, an immediate continuation of success is almost unprecedented, for it is still often tougher to preserve than to achieve. How soon we can get out of this transit period would depend much on the quality and intrinsics of the next manager of which we still firmly have no idea about.

And if Fergie indeed has a departure date in mind, I certainly hope the next manager has been earmarked or at least is in the process of being earmarked, covertly or not. And the sooner the better. The last thing we want in addition to taking over such a mammoth task is uncertainty.
 

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versa said:
I think Eric has accurately reflected the sentiments shared by the fans. Who wouldn't be concerned after all these years under the same manager who has given us our most successful years?

Granted that, I do expect us to 'suffer' for a while when Fergie leaves; honest to goodness. No matter how careful we prepare the taking over of the reins, an immediate continuation of success is almost unprecedented, for it is still often tougher to preserve than to achieve. How soon we can get out of this transit period would depend much on the quality and intrinsics of the next manager of which we still firmly have no idea about.

And if Fergie indeed has a departure date in mind, I certainly hope the next manager has been earmarked or at least is in the process of being earmarked, covertly or not. And the sooner the better. The last thing we want in addition to taking over such a mammoth task is uncertainty.
Steve Maclaren its is with Avram Grant his No2:p........Sam Allardyce as boot boy x
 
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HE is one of Manchester United's ultimate icons and was once voted by supporters as the greatest player in the club's history.

But in his memoirs, former FA executive director David Davies, reveals how United were ready to turn their back on Eric Cantona following his infamous kung fu kick in 1995.

In his book, FA Confidential, Davies claims former Old Trafford chairman Martin Edwards was prepared to ban Cantona for life after the incident at Selhurst Park.

United later softened their stance, and were even incensed by the FA's decision to hand the Frenchman an eight month ban. But Davies' revelation shows how close they came to jettisoning a player who was so pivotal to their success in the 90s.

Sir Alex Ferguson even flew out to France to convince Cantona not to turn his back on United when he threatened to quit English football altogether, with the striker eventually returning to inspire back-to-back titles.

But Davies claims such a meeting would not have been necessary if the club had stood by their initial stance in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

"The interest in Cantona's transgression was massive," he said. "Swift contact with United was vital to co-ordinate our response.

"Tracing Martin Edwards to the Royal Lancaster Hotel, I found United's chairman talking tough. `We're thinking of an indefinite suspension for Eric,' Martin said. `Banning Eric altogether.'"

How Ferguson would have reacted to that will never be known, but Davies suggests the United manager played a big part in convincing his chairman to be more lenient with the club's prize asset at the time.

Banned

"Martin realised the seriousness of Eric's conduct but, when he returned to Manchester, he softened his stance," said Davies. "'Eric will be banned until the end of the season,' Martin announced. Not indefinite. Not altogether.

"United had had an emergency meeting somewhere in Cheshire and Martin must have spoken at length to Alex Ferguson.

"Martin was clearly feeling the heat from Ferguson, who understandably wanted his best player in action."

United were infuriated when the FA extended Cantona's punishment beyond the end of the season, but Davies reveals how the enigmatic player did himself no favours when asked to speak at his disciplinary hearing.

"God, I thought," said Davies. "Prepare for fireworks. I recalled a previous French FA hearing when Cantona smacked an official in the face.

"Anything was possible here. In perfectly good English, Eric delivered the most astonishing speech I've ever heard.

"'I would like to apologise to the chairman of the commission,' Eric began. 'I would like to apologise to Manchester United, Maurice Watkins and Alex Ferguson. I like to apologise to my teammates. I want to apologise to the FA. And I would like to apologise to the prostitute who shared my bed last night.'

"Had I honestly heard that? At least two members of the commission certainly hadn't grasped it. Cantona was taking the Mickey. He had to be.

"His apology to a non-existent prostitute was, I think, a prelude to his remark later about `when the seagulls follow the trawler.'

Punishing

"The commission continued, eventually punishing Eric with an eight-month ban and £10,000 fine. Ferguson went nuclear. United thought the suspension was too harsh, the media deemed it too soft, maybe it was just about right."

[/I]

M.E.N.


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versa said:
And if Fergie indeed has a departure date in mind, I certainly hope the next manager has been earmarked or at least is in the process of being earmarked, covertly or not. And the sooner the better. The last thing we want in addition to taking over such a mammoth task is uncertainty.

In addition to this, SAF (and all of United management) can help the new manager greatly by ensuring that we have a roster of players that are contractually and emotionally committed to United for the period AFTER HIS DEPARTURE.

Perceptions are everything, the last thing we need is a series of defections as soon as he leaves. If there are players who will likely leave when SAF does (cr, nani....), Fergie himself should get rid of them BEFORE HE RETIRES, and if possible, replace them with players who actually want to be here.
 
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