Eric Cantona, footballer and poet, was urged by his manager yesterday to float ethereally above his comeback game this weekend.
As fans queued up in the Manchester rain with little chance of getting a ticket for Sunday's match against Liverpool, the sardine philosopher was instructed by the Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson not to tackle either taunting supporters - or opposing players.
Ferguson confirmed yesterday that Cantona, banned since January for attacking a Crystal Palace supporter after being sent off, would be on the pitch from the start on Sunday.
In a BBC Radio 5 Live programme, Ferguson says: "He is not a tackler. I'm fed up telling him that. He doesn't know how to do it and usually ends up with a booking. I don't think forwards abroad are expected to tackle. They conserve themselves for scoring or creating."
Cantona is quoted as saying he believes he can curb the volatility that has marked his career. "What I have to do now is find a solution," he says. "That's what I think I have found. Nobody knows about it and I can't explain it. People will have to notice it themselves."
He adds: "I harm myself. I'm aware of it. I'm aware of harming others. But I cannot be what I am without those other sides of my character. I have no regrets. I have to correct those faults but I have to remain true to myself. That's the problem. In the past I have tried to correct myself and lost my game."
Cantona's comeback, page 32