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Barry J. Leeming    Digest Prgram by  William McArthur  Canada
Theatre Of Dreams  Banner's  by Sam Hayward   Download the digest program here!
The Devil's Advocate "REDitorial" commentary by Alex Paylor  "RED sky at night UNITED delight!"

The Dennis Viollet Fund


www.red11.org DAILY NEWS
Date: Tue Dec 15 23:14:28 GMT+00:00 1998
Mail: barry@www.red11.org

This Issue:
1. United and Chelsea to battle for the soul of our game
2. Survey #30 results Who will replace Brian Kidd?"  + New Holiday 3week survey starts.
3. Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy or how Keano did not get booked?
4. Foe eyes United switch «« 
5. United and Chelsea to battle for the soul of our game
6. WHY WE SHOULD ALL SUPPORT UNITED from Singapore
7. BBC Report: Campbell double foils United
8. ERIC IS THE LEADING MAN AGAIN

++++++=========+++++++========+++++++++========++++++++

Daily RED Trivia  Tue 15th December 1998:

15/12/1951: Joe Jordan born in Carluke, Scotland. A fearless striker, he joined United from
 Leeds United for £350,000 and made his debut against Bristol City in February 1978.
 Jordan played in the 1979 FA Cup Final and totalled 41 goals in 126 appearances 
 between 1978-81 before joining AC Milan. 52 caps for Scotland, and  scored in the 
 World Cup Finals in 1974, 1978 and 1982. 

1979: United win 2-1 at Coventry City in a Division 1 game watched by 25,541,
 with goals from Lou Macari and Gordon McQueen. Team was: Bailey, Nicholl,
 Houston, McIlroy, McQueen, Buchan, Coppell, Wilkins, Jordan, Macari, Thomas.

************

Barry Daily Comment:

Meet Bill McArthur webmaster fronm simplenet in the Throstles Nest 
before the Chelsea match this Wednesday from 1800 hrs onwards.
directions here: http://www.cheswem.u-net.com/nest~1.htm
The Throstles Nest, Seymour Grove -- (0161-860-5595)


http://www.iol.ie/~redcafe/kidd.htm
Brian Kidd Press conference, pic, real audio


Remaining 1998 games: 

ALL Result/Fixture Index:
http://www.red11.org/mufc/fix9899z.htm

Wed 16/12 Chelsea       (H) PL sky sports time 20.00
Sat 19/12 Middlesbrough (H) PL 15.00
Sat 26/12 Nottm Forest  (H) PL 15.00
Tue 29/12 Chelsea       (A) PL sky sports time 19.45 UK


UNITED Stats v Chelsea:
http://www.red11.org/mufc/stats/vschelsea.htm

*** TEAM RESULTS - MANCHESTER UNITED  ***

Date        Opposition                        Score   Pos.   Attend.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
15/08/98    Leicester City           Home     D  2-2    11    55,052
22/08/98    West Ham United          Away     D  0-0    11    26,039
09/09/98    Charlton Athletic        Home     W  4-1     9    55,147
12/09/98    Coventry City            Home     W  2-0     5    55,193
20/09/98    Arsenal                  Away     L  0-3    10    38,142
24/09/98    Liverpool                Home     W  2-0     3    55,181
03/10/98    Southampton              Away     W  3-0     2    15,251
17/10/98    Wimbledon                Home     W  5-1     2    55,265
24/10/98    Derby County             Away     D  1-1     2    30,867
31/10/98    Everton                  Away     W  4-1     2    40,079
08/11/98    Newcastle United         Home     D  0-0     3    55,174
14/11/98    Blackburn Rovers         Home     W  3-2     2    55,198
21/11/98    Sheffield Wednesday      Away     L  1-3     2    39,475
29/11/98    Leeds                    Home     W  3-2     2    55,172
05/12/98    Aston Villa              Away     D  1-1     2    39,241
12/12/98    Tottenham Hotspur        Away     D  2-2     1    36,079

 
	******
   
Champions League:3
Group D         P  W  D  L  F  A   Pts
Bayern Munich   6  3  2  1  9  6  11   
Man United      6  2  4  0 20 11  10
Barcelona       6  2  2  2 11  9   8    
Brondby         6  1  0  5  4 18   3   

Sep 16 Brøndby         2-1 Bayern München
Sep 16 Man Utd         3-3 Barcelona
Sep 30 Barcelona       2-0 Brøndby
Sep 30 Bayern Munich   2-2 Man Utd
Oct 21 Brøndby         2-6 Man Utd
Oct 21 Bayern Munich   1-0 Barcelona 
Nov  4 Barcelona       1-2 Bayern Munich
Nov  4 Man Utd         5-0 Brøndby
Nov 25 Barcelona       3-3 Man Utd
Nov 25 Bayern Munich   2-0 Brøndby
Dec  9 Brøndby         0-2  Barcelona
Dec  9 Man Utd         1-1  Bayern Munich

++++++=========+++++++========+++++++++========++++++++


"Peter Schmeichel's last season at OT" Click on image for more!"

Jeff Powell: United and Chelsea to battle for the soul of our game By Jeff Powell Monday, December 14, 1998 The Greatest League in the world, or a spin doctor's illusion of which Peter Mandelson would be proud? English football at its finest ever, or a bunch of foreign mercenaries bleeding the old game dry? The forging of thoroughbred champions in the furnace of ultimate competition, or the best of an indifferent bunch? We are about to come closer to the truth of our national game. Two matches between the same two teams within the space of two weeks will bring the Premiership into true perspective. They may also help decide who goes on to win the title, should one of these huge clubs establish a points advantage over the other from their Christmas bookend fixtures. Manchester United v Chelsea on Wednesday followed by Chelsea v Manchester United 13 nights later represents the fulcrum of what is threatening to be a defining season for the Premiership. All the TV hype and World Cup hysteria which have set football booming inas the cult industry of the late 1990s are giving way to a more critical analysis of our national game. Beneath the cloak of all that ballyhoo there is some pretty ordinary stuff being played out there; witness the bulk of the last two Saturdays' offerings. Even when the goals rush in, they tend to owe more to the inept defending which is becoming the chronic trademark of the English game. Thus Manchester United and Chelsea will be playing for even more than a hand-hold on the championship. Together, they are about to paint for the public a realistic picture of the calibre of the Premiership. Should one dominate the other, that team will set an example from which the professional game will decide which route to follow in the foreseeable future . . . ever-increasing investment in foreign imports or the education and development of home-grown talent. This is an issue of the utmost importance to England. If Chelsea prevail this season, with scarcely a native-born Englishman in their team, the rush will be on to beat them to the signing of any footballer whose name ends in a vowel, while even more doors slam shut in the faces of hopeful youngsters all over the country. No-one would deny, or want to, the splendid entertainment to be seen these days from the Bridge. With the Royal Opera House closed for renovation, Chelsea are the capital's leading providers of international stars. For Domingo and Pavarotti read Desailly and Poyet . . . with whispers of everyone from Juninho to Ronaldo being on the programme for the New Year. But it is all about as English as spaghetti, Sancerre and smorgasbord. Everyone connected with Chelsea is excited. But there is a shadow behind the smiles on the youngest of those faces. Recent television interviews with a number of youth players at Stamford Bridge revealed their common anxiety. With all the foreign celebrities on the playing staff their own chances of making it in the game are about as good as Hull City winning the Champions League. Which brings us to England's solitary survivors in European football. Manchester United are the prime suppliers of raw material to the national team. Without Alex Ferguson's production line, there would be no Beckham, Scholes, Butt or brothers Neville to put at least a gloss on England's years of World Cup frustration. While United continue to set the standards for the domestic game, there is hope for every kid in the country who dreams of kicking a ball like his heroes on television. If it were left to the likes of Chelsea, there would be no England team at all. The pair of them come head-to-head after a week in which only United have succeeded in bridging the class gap between the Premiership and Europe's elite. Without United's qualification from the group phase of the Champions League, English football would be in the doldrums and all of us with something pertinent to say about the game would be engaged in an inquest likely to run deep into 1999. After the failure at France 98, public confidence in the Premiership product would have been eroded further. Even so, Europe's quarter-final draw - in which United will hope for Olympiakos and pray to avoid Dynamo Kiev above even the Italians and Germans - is not Wednesday's cardinal event. The urgent question is whether we really have a mighty Premiership, or a League of Mediocrity? We may be about to find out. Because, right now, Manchester United v Chelsea is as good as it gets.
"Peter Schmeichel's last season at OT" Click on image for more!"

Subject: Survey #30 results Who will replace Brian Kidd?" + New Holiday 3week survey starts. Week of Dec 06 Who will permanently replace Brian Kidd as Alex Ferguson's No.2? Steve Bruce 32 34.0% Bryan Robson 19 20.2% Other 19 20.2% Jim Ryan 15 16.0% Gary Pallister 8 8.5% Alex McLeish 1 1.1% Total 94 votes (5 days) Question closed 11/12/98 18:40 EST Barry Comment: Well our favorite is Bruce closely followed by the don't knows? Time will tell, meanwhile Alex will not rush into any decision. >>>>>>>>>>>> Its the holiday season and Bill McArthur is in the UK for 3 weeks so we are no running a three week CHRISTMAS survey: Weeks of Dec 13, 20, 27 Who is your favourite UNITED player? Question now open vote at: http://www.red11.org/miva/survey.mv Choose from...... (instant update on the current situation when you vote!) David Beckham Henning Berg Jesper Blomqvist Wes Brown Nicky Butt Michael Clegg Andy Cole Terry Cooke Jordi Cruyff Nick Culkin John Curtis Ryan Giggs Danny Higginbotham Denis Irwin Ronny Johnsen Roy Keane David May Philip Mulryne Gary Neville Philip Neville Erik Nevland Alex Notman Peter Schmeichel Paul Scholes Teddy Sheringham Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Jaap Stam Raimond Van der Gouw Dwight Yorke
"Peter Schmeichel's last season at OT" Click on image for more!"

To: barrylee@post3.tele.dk From: barrylee@post3.tele.dk (Barry Leeming) Subject: Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy or how Keano did not get booked? Mon 14th Dec, 2100hrs Denmark/18hrs after arriving back from London. "The Sugar Plum Fairy" I will now try to explain the happenings of the ballet show in North London on Sat. afternoon. No mention of the packed train in Denmark or the boat for 18hrs or singing the "Busby Boys" in the disco non stop for 30 mins, or the tardy bus arriving at White Hart Lane as the last minutes of our arranged pub meet ticked by. A phone call to Footy Queen offering a last minute ticket was to no avail as Lisa was working Saturday and the long trip impossible. Arriving at the Orchid Branch at 14.15 the crowd was there, Bill McArthur and Jack (my father) mingling with Jon Leigh, Mike Dobbin, Dave Menashe, Dr Mark and others. The world was a lttle smaller today UK, Canada, Denmark and Usa were all meeting up for the first time ever! Quick hello's, I explained to Dr Mark that we had an extra with the 40 or so Danes in East Upper. More hello's, goodbye's to Jon Leigh & brother who had made to the pub especially to greet us travelling REDS :) Jon you pleased my Dad enormously when you went up and asked him at the bar if he was Barry Leeming!! Thanks Jon for coming, Bill and I will now take special notice of your emails! Dr Mark and I rushed up and down amongst the mounted police to try and sell the extra to a fellow RED. Eventually the 34 quid ticket went cheap to a lucky red. I made my way in buying the "Songs Of Europe" at the Gate of the South Lower, one pound! Made my way up to the high position behind the goal with all the REDS and Dave from California. The match had already started and I quickly noticed the unusual faces Phil Neville and Teddy on the pitch from the kick off. No Cole no Dwight up front, this was going to be an unusual day? The REDS were already in good voice the pitch looked good and the play was fast. I admit at this point in time that I commented that todays ref was ok and very commanding type. I had also predicted 3-2 to us. Great to see Ole up and front and by the end of 15mins we were to be 2 up! Cracking goals and great play. Becks on form crossed for both goals. The first had been built by Giggsy who ran through the middle passed to David and Ryan managed to head the cross against the goalkeepr for Ole to tap/chip in. Spurs have the big screen high over the North Stand very useful to watch repeats of shots/goals. Ole could easily have scored 3 but it was not to be. Little did we know that this match was to be taken over by the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Gary challenged him/her/it out on the left wing and both times Sugar flew through the air with the greatest of ease. If you do not believe me check this pic out on the website, proof in itself http://www.red11.org/mufc/images/sugarplum.jpg or you can just click on Match Reports at www.red11.org. Rennie "for headaches" Ref was gullable, he continued to book players left right and center. Nicky Butt, David, Teddy for talkng too much, Ronny and for good measure Phil Neville! (Phil actually deserved his) Back to Sugar Plum, he could be a great player, he left players for dead esp in the 2nd half running through and shooting on target. I called him cheat as all REDS sang out loud, he must have received the message loud and clear. More songs "the Referee's a w....r" aso Sol Cambell scores from Andertons free kick with 20 mins to go, rising above Jaap, who had a magnificent match otherwise! Becks had been booked (who hadn't) for a tackle on Sinton previously. Five mind later RETALIATION by Sinton on Becks only gave yellow. From where I was this was a Red card offence. Nothing happened United's 10 men were pressed against the 12 men or cockrels. We nearly made it but still went top with the draw! The best song of all, it was at 2-1, nearing the end of the 2nd half was "The 12 Days Of Eric". I think EVERY SINGLE RED joined in by the last verse. The noise was deafening and hairs raised on the back of the neck. What happened at the end of this match was just an unbelievable let down. Cambell's soup scored a carbon copy 2nd goal from an Anderton free kick, in the last minute of the allocated 2 mins injury time. No discussion our back 4 did not keep it out. The real reason for the 2-2 draw, in a match where Manchester United dominated, was Act-1 scene-3 when Rennie had orchestrated the Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy. Barry reporting from London. I will not then tell you any more, about being locked in the ground by the police for ages, getting soaked picking up family christmas presents in the bus, the free mice pies down the pub, being breathalised by a copper in Central London or the excellent meal with Mike Dobbin and Bill McArthur in Leicester Square. Mick Meade and Richard Martin were nowhere to be seen?? A RED Day Was Had By All!
"Peter Schmeichel's last season at OT" Click on image for more!"

Subject: Foe eyes United switch «« Foe eyes United switch «« Marc-Vivien Foe is understood to be fending off a plethora of interest from Premiership clubs in the hope of finally securing himself a move to Manchester United. The highly-rated Cameroon international, likened to Arsenal's Patrick Vieira, was poised to complete a £4m move to Old Trafford prior to the World Cup. But in a freak training ground accident, the 23-year old Lens midfielder broke his leg. Foe has since returned to competitive football and a whole host of top-flight clubs are now believed to have signalled their interest. Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, West Ham United, Southampton, Spurs, Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland are all understood to be keen on acquiring his services. But Foe is intent on joining United, as his agent pointed out: "The situation is that Marc-Vivien Foe is waiting for Alex Ferguson because the Manchester United manager has been straight with him all the way through. "He is waiting for United. He isn't interested in joining anyone else." However, Foe's hopes of joining the Reds receded last week when Lens chose to play him in their final Champions' League clash, thus making him ineligible to further United's campaign in the same tournament.
"Peter Schmeichel's last season at OT" Click on image for more!"

Subject: United and Chelsea to battle for the soul of our game United and Chelsea to battle for the soul of our game By Jeff Powell Monday, December 14, 1998 The Greatest League in the world, or a spin doctor's illusion of which Peter Mandelson would be proud? English football at its finest ever, or a bunch of foreign mercenaries bleeding the old game dry? The forging of thoroughbred champions in the furnace of ultimate competition, or the best of an indifferent bunch? We are about to come closer to the truth of our national game. Two matches between the same two teams within the space of two weeks will bring the Premiership into true perspective. They may also help decide who goes on to win the title, should one of these huge clubs establish a points advantage over the other from their Christmas bookend fixtures. Manchester United v Chelsea on Wednesday followed by Chelsea v Manchester United 13 nights later represents the fulcrum of what is threatening to be a defining season for the Premiership. All the TV hype and World Cup hysteria which have set football booming inas the cult industry of the late 1990s are giving way to a more critical analysis of our national game. Beneath the cloak of all that ballyhoo there is some pretty ordinary stuff being played out there; witness the bulk of the last two Saturdays' offerings. Even when the goals rush in, they tend to owe more to the inept defending which is becoming the chronic trademark of the English game. Thus Manchester United and Chelsea will be playing for even more than a hand-hold on the championship. Together, they are about to paint for the public a realistic picture of the calibre of the Premiership. Should one dominate the other, that team will set an example from which the professional game will decide which route to follow in the foreseeable future . . . ever-increasing investment in foreign imports or the education and development of home-grown talent. This is an issue of the utmost importance to England. If Chelsea prevail this season, with scarcely a native-born Englishman in their team, the rush will be on to beat them to the signing of any footballer whose name ends in a vowel, while even more doors slam shut in the faces of hopeful youngsters all over the country. No-one would deny, or want to, the splendid entertainment to be seen these days from the Bridge. With the Royal Opera House closed for renovation, Chelsea are the capital's leading providers of international stars. For Domingo and Pavarotti read Desailly and Poyet . . . with whispers of everyone from Juninho to Ronaldo being on the programme for the New Year. But it is all about as English as spaghetti, Sancerre and smorgasbord. Everyone connected with Chelsea is excited. But there is a shadow behind the smiles on the youngest of those faces. Recent television interviews with a number of youth players at Stamford Bridge revealed their common anxiety. With all the foreign celebrities on the playing staff their own chances of making it in the game are about as good as Hull City winning the Champions League. Which brings us to England's solitary survivors in European football. Manchester United are the prime suppliers of raw material to the national team. Without Alex Ferguson's production line, there would be no Beckham, Scholes, Butt or brothers Neville to put at least a gloss on England's years of World Cup frustration. While United continue to set the standards for the domestic game, there is hope for every kid in the country who dreams of kicking a ball like his heroes on television. If it were left to the likes of Chelsea, there would be no England team at all. The pair of them come head-to-head after a week in which only United have succeeded in bridging the class gap between the Premiership and Europe's elite. Without United's qualification from the group phase of the Champions League, English football would be in the doldrums and all of us with something pertinent to say about the game would be engaged in an inquest likely to run deep into 1999. After the failure at France 98, public confidence in the Premiership product would have been eroded further. Even so, Europe's quarter-final draw - in which United will hope for Olympiakos and pray to avoid Dynamo Kiev above even the Italians and Germans - is not Wednesday's cardinal event. The urgent question is whether we really have a mighty Premiership, or a League of Mediocrity? We may be about to find out. Because, right now, Manchester United v Chelsea is as good as it gets.
"Peter Schmeichel's last season at OT" Click on image for more!"

Subject: WHY WE SHOULD ALL SUPPORT UNITED from Singapore Subject: WHY WE SHOULD ALL SUPPORT UNITED from Singapore I think that all true English football fans, irrespective of their allegiances to whoever they support should be grateful of what appears to be more than an even chance that Manchester United appear to have in winning the European Champions League. Remember last year? Outstanding football in 90% of their European Champions League group matches, outstanding football played in the Premiership until February when fatigue, bought about by the previous few years successes suddenly derailed both club and players allowing Arsenal to overtake them in the Premiership and for Monaco to beat United in the Champions League quarter-finals. This year, the Man Utd squad appears stronger, seems much more capable to score goals but I feel that Ferguson needs maybe one or two further signings to give his squad the depth needed to emerge as true champions. I think it would be excellent for English football if United win the Champions League, and why do I think that? It would be ironic that in becoming champions of Europe, they did this by finishing as runners-up in the Premiership, and the fact that I cannot see any of the matches as I currently live in the United States. Sods Law, that's what I call it. My luck to be somewhere where this level of football is not viewed. Sure I can see Premier League matches on pay-per-view courtesy of Media Mogul Mr Murdoch's ownership of Fox Sports and BSkyB but European football?, no such luck. There you go, that's my reasoning for Manchester United winning the European Cup. Forget about Jaap Stam vs. Roy Keene as sweeper, forget about Cole vs. Solskjaer vs. Yorke up front, it pales into insignificance when you look at my reasoning. Manchester United aside, I find that every day I visit this website, especially so when matches are played midweek, it really keeps me in tune with football in the UK. Martin Holmshaw, Xerox Corporation, Webster, New York, USA ...I'm an avid follower of English Premier League footy, and it is somewhat amusing to observe the constant arguments on whether it is now the best league in Europe. Most of the points thrown up as proof to support the respective cases for or against are, frankly speaking, based on personal opinion. Not that tables and statistics can tell the whole story. Some signs on what the suits in UEFA and the various national FA's think of their respective rankings can be deduced from the number of Champions League places given to their leagues. The latest revision of the Champions League may have given England an extra place, but the same goes for the French and Dutch leagues. And these three leagues all have one less each than the acknowledged big three European leagues of Italy, Spain and Germany (yes, even the Germans). Not quite the best then in the opinion of the big-wigs. But the EPL must surely be the most hyped-up one in Europe. Manucan, Singapore
"Peter Schmeichel's last season at OT" Click on image for more!"

Subject: BBC Report: Campbell double foils United BBC Report: Campbell double foils United Tottenham 2-2 Manchester United Spurs secured an important point after two set-piece goals from captain Sol Campbell saw them secure a point draw against 10-man United at White Hart Lane. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had put United ahead with two goals in the first quarter - before Nicky Butt was sent off for a second bookable offence. Spurs secured the first chance of the match, however, after a disastrous back pass from David Beckham. It left Chris Armstrong with two chances to beat Peter Schmeichel but he failed to find the necessary curl to hit the back of the net. In an exhaustive opening 10 minutes, Spurs undoubtedly had the better of the play and when Schmeichel fumbled a high ball it looked as if the home fans were about to be rewarded with an early goal. Quick break: But a quick thinking clearance from Gary Neville found Ryan Giggs breaking fast upfield and with the Spurs defence looking depleted, United took their chance. An inch-perfect cross from Beckham, headed on by Giggs was saved superbly by Ian Walker - but he could do nothing about Solskjaer's chip into the back of the net. The goal clearly shocked Tottenham, who lost momentum in midfield with Beckham and Nicky Butt relishing the open spaces. And when Beckham again found himself with time and room on the right-hand side the second goal was never in doubt. Again he found Solskjaer - this time at the near post - with the Norwegian heading in for his fifth goal in four league games against Spurs. United's only danger in the first quarter seemed to come from within - with Schmeichel fumbling yet another cross before failing to grasp a relatively straight-forward shot from Luke Young. But if Schmeichel's failings were uncovered early on then so too were Tottenham's. Defensively the home side were a shambles with Beckham, Giggs and Roy Keane all given room to flourish. But with only minutes to go to the break United lost Gary Neville for a second rash challenge on David Ginola - leaving the home side with at least a glimpse of hope going into the second-half. Campbell finds form The home side started with more purpose after half-time, but were still unable to penetrate United's defence. Indeed, they were lucky not to move 3-0 down when Jaap Stam broke free on the right of midfield and fired a superb shot across the face of Walker's goal. Shortly after, Beckham was yellow-carded for feet up in a tackle and Ronny Johnson provided United's sixth bookable offence when he answered back to the referee. It proved to be a blessing for Spurs, who brought it back to 2-1 with the ensuing free-kick. Anderton's cross was met high in the penalty area by Campbell who headed it inches over Schmeichel's arms. The goal seemed to inspire Tottenham who began playing a much more fluid game. And when Alan Nielsen fired his five-yard shot straight at Schmeichel in the 70th minute it was obvious that Spurs could sense the game was far from over. The final quarter was undoubtedly all Tottenham, with United defending stoutly inside their own half. But the pressure paid off when seconds into injury time Carr was tripped by Jesper Blomqvist. The equaliser proved almost identical to Tottenham's first, with Anderton crossing and Campbell heading into the bottom of the net to earn Spurs a valuable point. Teams: Tottenham: Walker, Carr, Nielsen, Fox, Anderton, Ferdinand, Armstrong, Ginola, Sinton, Campbell, Young. Subs: Baardsen, Calderwood, Dominguez, Allen, Clemence. Man Utd: Schmeichel, G. Neville, Johnsen, Stam, Beckham, Butt, Sheringham, Giggs, P. Neville, Keane, Solskjaer. Subs: Van Der Gouw, Cole, Cruyff, Blomqvist, Berg.
"Peter Schmeichel's last season at OT" Click on image for more!"

Subject: ERIC IS THE LEADING MAN AGAIN ERIC IS THE LEADING MAN AGAIN by Ben Lyttleton There's a poignant scene in Mookie, the new film starring Eric Cantona, in which the former United striker's character comes across a group of poor children playing football. As the ball rolls towards Cantona, the audience draws a collective breath. But the Frenchman doesn't so much as glance at the ball as he continues on his way. Spot that symbolism, Barry. That the film featuring Cantona's first leading role was released (in France) on the same day as Manchester United's biggest game of the season is typical of the drama we associate with the man. In the movie, he plays a boxer on the run in Mexico - with a monk and a talking chimpanzee for company. The plot, so film critics say, is rich in metaphor - Cantona is no stranger to using martial arts himself, and has found himself in situations when fleeing has seemed the best option. Is he acting out some escapist fantasy here? That's the question for audiences still grappling with the concept that Fergie may be the monk and Beckham the chimp. Mookie's release comes a week after the retirement of Alain Delon, France's leading male film star. The timing is as sublime as a Cantona through-ball in his prime. Cantona has impressed in his previous roles: he played a laid-back rugby star in Le Bonheur Est dans le Pre and a French ambassador in Elizabeth. "He wasn't my first choice," admitted Le Bonheur director Etienne Chantilez. "I auditioned other sportsmen but although they looked great, the simplest sentence defeated them. 'Let. Me. Open. The. Door.' And I remembered seeing Eric on television a few years before, talking of how he wished to act. It lodged in the back of my mind." Cantona has spoken publicly about his role, but only to high school students in the Dordogne: "I know that many people thought I had stopped playing so that I could make a sensational comeback six months later. They've got egg on their faces now. I love to watch football and support some teams but playing - well, I know what it's like. I loved it and now I've left it." When asked about the leading character, who is a proud, morally upright and generous man, Cantona replied: "Let's say that all these characteristics are a fair reflection of what my friends and family think of me." The big screen suits Cantona, thinks Dean Evans, Reviews Editor of Total Film magazine: "I think he displays an arrogance and style of his own. He has a strong screen presence, as much as one can when running away with a monk and a talking chimpanzee." Cantona himself thinks he's found his true vocation at last: "Even when I was playing football I wanted to act," he admitted. "There were moments I would imagine scenes, evn if there wasn't a camera around. In my head, I was acting. I made up stories, I dreamt about different lives, I put myself in the skin of different characters. "I don't know if I'll act for the rest of my life but I'm pleased to be doing it today. If I'd started out with films, I'd never have been able to be a footballer." Now Cantona is entertaining another generation. The early signs are that he has what it takes - and he's in good company too. The last leading man to play opposite a monkey was Clint Eastwood in Every Which Way But Loose.
"Peter Schmeichel's last season at OT" Click on image for more!"

Pic Link today is http://www.red11.org/mufc/news/schmeichel.htm

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