Gary Pallister insists the story about Alex Ferguson’s reaction to Eric Cantona’s infamous kung-fu kick is true.
On 25 January, 1995, Eric Cantona hurled himself studs-first into one of the most unforgettable moments in Premier League history and, apparently, Alex Ferguson didn’t come down too hard on his talisman at the time.
Cantona received a ban until the end of the season and was fined around £10,000 for leaping the Selhurst Park barrier to kick a fan who, to this day, the Frenchman refers to as ‘the hooligan.’
Cantona’s former teammate Gary Pallister has discussed what was said in the dressing room after the infamous incident and revealed that Ferguson responded surprisingly calmly.
“We all thought Eric was going to get the hairdryer after the game after the gaffer nailed a few of the players,” Pallister told the One Last Match podcast.
“Because we drew the game with 10 men – we thought we did OK.
“We came in and he had a pop at a few of the players. We thought, this is Eric going to get the hairdryer.
“And he turned to Eric – Eric was sat in the corner with his suit on. And he just went: ‘Eric, you can’t go round doing that son’.
“The gaffer doesn’t like that story I don’t think, he says it didn’t happen. But, sorry gaffer, it did.”
It’s well-known among United fans that Cantona played by different rules under Ferguson during his five years with the Red Devils.
While Cantona became a Premier League icon during his spell under Ferguson, Pallister also revealed that the arrival of the French forward from Leeds United in 1992 came as something of a shock.
United, who were linked with a couple of forwards during that period, weren’t expected to pull of a coup like the £1.2 million they paid for Cantona.
Pallister explained: “We went and got Cantona from Leeds. I always remember receiving a phone call from a journalist saying: ‘You’ve just signed a centre forward’.
“We were linked heavily at the time with Alan Shearer and David Hirst. He said: ‘Have a guess’.
“So I’ve started with Shearer, Hirst, then went through God knows how many names. He said: ‘No, no, you’ve signed Eric Cantona’.
“I went, OK. Obviously I’d played against Eric, he came on the last 20 minutes, last 25 minutes, at Old Trafford in a game.
“I remember the gaffer asked about Eric Cantona in the bath after the game and myself and Brucie [Steve Bruce] went: ‘Yeah, he’s a good player, he’s big, he’s bullish, he’s got a great touch’.
“You know players, when they’re clever players, and they’re playing against you. I said: ‘Yeah, he’s a really good player’. So I don’t know if it was me and Brucie saying that… the gaffer always said he did ask me and Brucie about it.”