Cathy Ferguson did a lot more for the club than people realise.
Cathy Ferguson, the wife, and confidant of the former United boss, is already a legend in the eyes of supporters, who were known to sing her name from the stands after she famously convinced her husband to reconsider retirement in 2002.
After that, the club went on to add six Premier League titles to the seven they had already won under Fergie’s stewardship, as well as a Champions League and another FA Cup, so it’s fair to say things worked out well.
“Cantona’s going home…”
This wasn’t the only time that Cathy came to the rescue of United fans, as her husband explained in the latest edition of the official Manchester United magazine.
In conversation with friend and actor Christopher Eccleston, the pair got onto the topic of the role Cathy played in Ferguson’s glittering career.
Addressing the aftermath of Eric Cantona’s 1995 suspension for kicking a supporter, Sir Alex said: “I went to see Eric and he told me ‘I’m finished’. I said ‘no you’re not, you’re not finished. You’re not giving in to anyone,’ and he said, “no, I’m finished.”
Ferguson goes on to say how he went home and told Cathy that “Cantona’s going home,” only for his wife to respond: “I’m surprised you’re giving in so easily, that’s not like you.”
“You can’t win anything with kids”
In the interview, available to watch in full here, Ferguson continues: “I was straight back on that phone, booked the first flight to Paris, phoned his lawyer, and told him I was coming to speak to him.
“And it was fantastic. I got on this plane, landed in Paris and all the press are there and I’m running and I see a lad with two helmets. He says ‘Mr. Ferguson, this way’.”
“So of course, I get on this motorbike and the lad shoots off with a whoosh, I was terrified, honestly! So he takes me to the hotel, the George V, and says he’ll pick me up at the back entrance at 6 pm, we’re going to meet Eric.”
It’s later explained how Sir Alex and Eric spoke long into the night, Cantona agreed to stay at United, and lo and behold, the Frenchman famously led the young United squad to the league and cup double in 1995/96.
Alex and Cathy Ferguson.
Alex and Cathy were married in 1966, the same year Cantona was born incidentally, and it’s stories like this that show how pivotal a role she played in her husband’s decision-making.
If there’s room next to the Sir Alex Ferguson statue outside Old Trafford, it might be an idea to start sculpting one for his closest advisor.
Originally published June 25th 2021.