Football: Cantona sees the red mist again: James Traynor watches as United's volatile Frenchman is sent off in the defeat at Ibrox

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The Independent Online
NO MATTER where he goes, Eric Cantona seems to attract trouble. Last month the Manchester United player was prevented from commentating on a World Cup semi-final in Pasadena after an unseemly altercation with a technician and yesterday he made an early exit in the less exotic surroundings of Ibrox Park having only come on at half-time as a substitute.

Having taken the field in the unfamiliar role of Dion Dublin's replacement, the French international captain quickly became involved in a feud with Rangers' Stephen Pressley and, despite a warning from the referee, he would not be calmed.

First, he was booked on 81 minutes for walking way from the referee, Andrew Waddell, and the end came a minute later when Cantona, who was also sent off in successive games late last season, lunged wildly at Pressley.

United's manager Alex Ferguson said afterwards that Cantona would be suspended for 'two, maybe three matches depending on the referee's report', before adding that the International Challenge tournament had done his club no favours.

Steve Bruce damaged his groin in the defeat by Newcastle on Friday and Ferguson's other central defender, Gary Pallister, suffered a similar injury in the game against Rangers yesterday.

United lost 1-0 - their own David May, a close-season signing from Blackburn, turned the ball into his own net two minutes from half-time - and finished that game with only nine men, Pallister having hobbled off 15 minutes from the end.

'As far as I am aware walking away from a referee is not a bookable offence,' Ferguson said. 'When Eric feels there has been an injustice he has to correct it. He can't control his temper in such a situation. But I'm still delighted to have him and we will have to live with his faults.'

It will continue to be a costly existence, but one wonders how long United, who start their campaign at home to Queen's Park Rangers, can - or should - tolerate Cantona's fragile temperament. Also, there should be no disguising the fact that United were playing in an unimportant pre-season match and one of their best players was dismissed because he could not cope with a 21-year-old, Pressley, who cannot hold down a regular place in Rangers' first team. Ferguson's Mon Genius is becoming an increasingly costly luxury.

By way of contrast, in the tournament's final, Sampdoria's collection of talents were serene and composed even after they had conceded the first goal to Newcastle.

Andy Cole scored after eight minutes but his goal stung the Italians, who had beaten Rangers 4-2 on Friday, into action. Two goals from Attilo Lombardo and a penalty by Alessandro Melli secured the trophy, and underscored Sampdoria's supremacy.

Rangers (4-4-2): Maxwell; Stevens, Boli, Pressley, Murray; Moore, Durrant, Durie (Hagen, 73), Huistra; McCoist (Fotheringham, 89), D Ferguson.

Manchester United (4-4-2): Schmeichel; Casper, May, Pallister, Sharpe; Butt, Beckham (Giggs, h-t), Ince, Davies; Dublin (Cantona, h-t), Hughes.

Referee: A Waddell (Edinburgh.)

Sampdoria (4-4-2): Zenga; Serena, Vierchowod, Rossi (Sacchetti, h-t), Jugovic; Lombardo, Platt, Mihailovic, Maspero (Salsano, 82); Melli, Bertarelli.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Srnicek, Hottiger, Venison, Peacock, Beresford; Fox, Watson (Holland, 68), Elliott, Guppy (Mathie, 68); Beardsley, Cole.

Referee: L Mottram (Forth.)

Kenny Dalglish, 43, made a playing comeback yesterday. The Blackburn manager turned out next to Chris Sutton against Aberdeen in Stewart McKimmie's testimonial at Pittodrie. The home side's Duncan Shearer, a former Blackburn player, headed the only goal of the game in the 10th minute.