Reminders of Cantona affair
Saturday 17 January 2004
Sir Alex Ferguson says there have been no plans made as to how Rio Ferdinand will be kept mentally and physically fit when the ban begins but he will continue to be involved in squad activities at Carrington.
During Eric Cantona's eight-month suspension, which began nine years ago, Manchester United attempted to arrange private friendlies with Oldham and Rochdale to keep the Frenchman's spirits and sharpness up, until the FA intervened to stop them. "I have not addressed that situation because it has not yet arisen," Ferguson said yesterday. "We will have to assess what the boy wants to do and his views are very important on this."
Whether or not any appeal is successful, Ferguson's experience of the Cantona affair could prove extremely useful in ensuring Ferdinand's sentence is served with the minimum possible disruption. Ferdinand, like Cantona, will be allowed to train, although any attempt to arrange private matches will be prohibited.
Intense though the media pressure is on Ferdinand, it is nothing like that which enveloped Manchester United following Cantona's assault on a Crystal Palace fan in January 1995, which led to criminal charges. Cantona exploded in fury when he and his wife, who was six months pregnant, were confronted by television cameras while on holiday, which led to a threat to retire from football.
Ferdinand is much more comfortable with the media, has used his contract with the Sun to pursue his case vigorously and has nothing like the Frenchman's volatility. Manchester United have stated that Ferdinand will be paid in full during the ban and will be given all the support at the club's disposal.
Ferguson genuinely feared that Cantona would carry out his threat to leave Manchester United during the ban and went to great lengths to persuade him otherwise, riding clandestinely through the streets of Paris on the back of a Harley-Davidson to meet him in a restaurant. Though stating that "no man is unbreakable", the Manchester United manager regards Ferdinand as "mentally strong" and unlikely to do anything rash. This includes taking up an acting career.
Latest in Sport
Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Best memes as Twitter reacts to imminent £16m transfer
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal joins Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for Sami Khedira
Sami Khedira to Arsenal? Arsene Wenger reveals Gunners are still in the market for defensive midfielder
Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Risky business to think Balotelli can replace Luis Suarez
Malky Mackay texts: Harry Redknapp defends former Cardiff City manger - 'he hasn't raped anyone and he is not a paedophile'
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians