Manchester United legend claims Woodward turned down unique offer despite Ferguson approval

Matt Stead
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson talks to Ed Woodward

Eric Cantona held talks with Manchester United over becoming their President of Football but Ed Woodward rejected the idea.

Cantona retired as a Manchester United player in 1997 and has not worked for the club in an official capacity since.

He once made a pitch to become manager when the club were being linked with Jose Mourinho in summer 2016, but no role of any kind has ever been formalised.

That is not for the want of trying, according to Cantona himself.

“Last year, I proposed to the club to change their way,” he told The Athletic.

“Ed Woodward is great at marketing but not great at football. United should have a chairman and then they should have a president of marketing and then a president of football, who is in charge of all the decisions in football.

“So I proposed to them that I should be president of football.

“I met him a few times,” he continued, speaking of Woodward. “But they did not accept it!

“I still think me or somebody else, they should have somebody for football. It should be somebody from the club, who knows football and the club.

“But they did not want me to be the president of the club! They did not want me! And the fans have to know that I went and travelled to Manchester to give them the opportunity to succeed in the next decades. And they did not want it.

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“I am smiling because I love what I do now in my life. I never earned so much money, even in football. I do many things I love, only things for which I have passion.

“But first I met Sir Alex Ferguson, to say this to him and to know what he thought about it. And he thought it was a good idea. He introduced me to Mr Woodward.

“I felt guilty not trying to help this club to do better. I said to myself, ‘For five years I will put everything on hold and concentrate 100 per cent on that’. And if I concentrate 100 per cent on that, then I can tell you, I would do it very well.

“Now I feel good with myself. I tried. So nobody in my family can say I did not try anything to help United. They do not want it. That’s their choice. But I tried it.”