• Champions League

Cantona: Fergie still has the hunger

ESPN staff
March 5, 2013
Eric Cantona admires Sir Alex Ferguson's hunger to win © PA Photos

Eric Cantona believes Sir Alex Ferguson will approach Tuesday's Champions League meeting with Real Madrid "as if it's the first game of his career", with the Manchester United manager's boundless passion for the game still intact.

After signing from Leeds in the summer of 1992, Cantona helped Ferguson bring a first Premier League title to Old Trafford since 1967 in his maiden season, laying the foundations for United's continued success through to the current season.

While Ferguson has often highlighted Cantona's legacy, the Frenchman told RMC radio that the United boss' undiminished enthusiasm has been the common thread running through his 26-year tenure, and will again be on display when he pits his wits against Madrid boss Jose Mourinho in the second leg of their last-16 tie.

"More than being a great coach, Ferguson is a great man with great humility and great passion. He's more than 70 years old, but I'm certain he'll approach the match as if it's the first game of his career. He transmits his passion [to the players]," Cantona said.

Cantona retired in 1997 as the 'Fergie Fledglings' - Gary Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes et al - were just bedding in. Only Scholes and Ryan Giggs, who is set to make his 1000th career appearance against Madrid, remain from Cantona's time at the club, and the former France international marvels at how Ferguson has managed to sustain a flow of silverware despite rejuvenating his squad.

"He's been in charge of different generations," Cantona said. "He's gone from one to another. That's difficult for a coach. When you build up a relationship and you have to move on to the next generation, it's not easy. Yet, no player has left on bad terms."

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