Cantona returns (October 1995)

It was billed as ‘The Return of The King.’ After serving an eight-month suspension for his kung-fu kick at a Crystal Palace supporter, Eric Cantona was ready to return to the Manchester United first-team. It nearly never happened. He had requested a transfer in the summer, feeling he was being victimised by the English media for his actions on that evening at Selhurst Park. Alex Ferguson had managed to convince him to stay and he was ready for his return to Old Trafford against arch-rivals Liverpool FC.

The fans were generally thrilled. It was a huge event for them. They’d felt Manchester United’s season without silverware in 1994-1995 had been sparked by the Cantona suspension and were keen to get their title back.

He made an amazing start, setting up a goal in the opening minute for Nicky Butt. Although Robbie Fowler scored twice to give Liverpool FC the lead, this day was all about Cantona. With 20 minutes left, Ryan Giggs was tripped by Jamie Redknapp in the penalty area and referee David Elleray pointed to the penalty spot. The stage was set for the talismanic Frenchman to seal his comeback with a goal. He sent David James the wrong way to make it 2-2 which is how the game ended.

It was a terrific match and a point each was a fair result but Sunday, 1st October 1995 was all about the return of Eric Cantona. His quest to turn the 1995-1996 title race into a one-man crusade had begun.

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