Richard Buxton: Another former Red Devil on Mourinho’s case
Cantona believes an ex-United player should replace Mourinho
Just when Jose Mourinho appeared to have finally tamed one enfant terrible, another springs up.
For better or worse, the Manchester United manager remains beset by maverick Frenchmen following a 2-1 win over Everton yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Mourinho has reached a previously unlikely truce with Paul Pogba, as well as Anthony Martial, but another of the World Cup winner's compatriots is now posing fresh problems.
Eric Cantona is rarely backward in coming forward and when he speaks, United fans listen. The latest instalment of The King's speech saw him colourfully suggest that Mourinho is "not the right man for the right woman" that is the 20-time English champions.
Satisfying Old Trafford's insatiable appetite for both success and aesthetics remains a difficult balancing act for the Special One. His every step is continually scrutinised by a higher power.
At the Theatre of Dreams, Mourinho is living and breathing a personal nightmare.
Alex Ferguson's accomplishments taunt him at every turn, with homages to Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes among a litany of banners in permanent residence around the fabled stadium.
It’s not the right man for the right woman. It’s the way you play. You can lose games but you take risks... At United, they never give a chance to a player who knows the club from the inside, who knows the identity and philosophy of the club.Former United star Eric Cantona
In the executive lounges, stalwarts of Ferguson's legacy, including Bryan Robson, Andy Cole and Park Ji Sung, have reportedly been reminded to toe the party line in ambassadorial roles.
Ferguson's own presence in the directors' box feels, at times, akin to a Roman emperor. TV cameras instantly gravitate towards it whenever his old club are invariably feeling the pinch.
Against Everton, Mourinho was also forced to endure repeated references to Cantona, set to the tune of La Marseillaise, in recognition of a rare public appearance in his former parish.
Matters are not helped by Scholes and other members of the Class of 92 refusing to publicly hold their tongue, with Cantona now joining his ex-United teammates in delivering withering media diatribes, many of which the Portuguese coach has routinely taken to task.
Public dissent between the old guard and incumbents is nothing new; Gerard Houllier spent his final months at Liverpool railing against the prominence of former players in the media.
By his count, Anfield's alumni accounted for 22 working pundits, enough to make up a first-team squad in their own right, and were not shy in voicing ideologies from a Boot Room dynasty which the French tactician felt were increasingly outdated yet ultimately could not outlast.
As with Liverpool then, there is a growing clamour for United to go back to their roots with people steeped in the principles that Ferguson's success was founded upon. Cantona has argued that any former player expressing an interest in the role should be given a chance.
It is why calls to "give it Giggsy until the end of the season" have become an impassioned plea in some quarters, after the Wales coach's four-game spell in temporary charge back in 2014.
Supporters continually yearn for a renaissance spearheaded by the Class of 92's graduates.
Mourinho's nemesis is living proof of the benefits of tapping into that font of knowledge.
Pep Guardiola delivered not only unprecedented success at Barcelona but also reintroduced the concept of familiarity in an era where new-age coaches, like Mourinho, were ruling the roost.
Since then, Zinedine Zidane has guided Real Madrid to three Champions Leagues in as many years while, across the Spanish capital, Diego Simeone has become one of European football's pre-eminent coaches during a current seven-year spell in charge of Atletico Madrid.
Similarly Antonio Conte recorded three consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus before coaching the Italian national side.
United, however, have already been there and done that. Wilf McGuinness failed to emerge from the shadow of his former mentor Matt Busby and lasted barely 18 months in the role. There is little to suggest that Ferguson's former fledglings would not suffer a similar fate.
A superior CV does not make Mourinho immune from the weight of history, either. Cantona is merely the latest reminder that he will never be bigger than the club.