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Aug 4, 2011

Cantona critical of City approach

Manchester United legend Eric Cantona believes the club's cross-town rivals will need to invest in youth development rather than big-name players if they are to reach the level of success achieved at Old Trafford.

Eric Cantona slams Man City.

Cantona, currently in the UK to promote the New York Cosmos for whom he is the director of soccer, has warned Manchester City they will never match his former club despite splashing cash this summer on the likes of Sergio Aguero, Gael Clichy and Stefan Savic.

Manager Roberto Mancini complained towards the end of last season at the lack of players with first-team potential in the City academy, which was a remarkable statement given how productive the club had previously been at youth level.

"United are the best team," said Cantona. "I don't know how City work. Maybe they are working on the academy. But today they want to spend millions to buy players to build a team.

"They have been successful because they won the FA Cup but if they only want to do that, they will not be as strong as Manchester United.

"United work on the long term, with young talent."

Cantona also launched a rebuke at Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli, who have this summer both criticised the lifestyle in Manchester.

"They don't like the place? It depends upon where they come from. If they come from Milan, maybe. Also it depends why they have come.

"I had a great time here and a great time in the city but the most important thing for me was to play for the best club in the world, with the best players in the world.

"I was a professional player. I didn't try to find a city to enjoy it. The greatest time you can have is on the pitch."

And, 14 years after leaving, Cantona is back as manager of the Cosmos in which huge investment and PR could see them become Major League Soccer's 20th team.

"I didn't want to come back like any other ex-player," said Cantona. "I wanted to come back with a special club. We have a lot of things to do. We want to do them well.

"We want to win things and build things. We want to work on the long term and try to be one of the best teams in the USA and maybe help, through our young talent, the national team to win the World Cup just as Barcelona helped Spain last year.

"I know all clubs want young players. But we are special, and better than the others.''

Cantona's managerial rival during Paul Scholes' testimonial in Manchester will be Sir Alex Ferguson, the man who asked Martin Edwards to throw in the Frenchman's name during a phone call with then Leeds chairman Bill Fotherby in 1992, resulting in a staggering transfer that arguably changed the face of English football.

"Maybe I will die before Sir Alex," said Cantona. "I am sure he will be on the bench forever. It is his life.

"He was a good player. He has been a great manager for Manchester United."

Cantona certainly feels Ferguson will be more difficult to replace than any of the stellar talents who have left United during the Scot's incredible reign, which in November will have reached 25 years. And that includes himself and Scholes, whose retirement will be honoured on Friday.

"I knew Paul when he was young," said Cantona. "He started here with us. He has been a great player. He could play anywhere, midfield, up front, he could score goals, make them, defend, tackle. He could do anything.

"He is a great player. I am very proud of him. But you can replace any player, especially at a club like Manchester United, with a great manager like Ferguson.

"When a player leaves, you think the club won't win any more. But they still do. They have a great history and they work a lot every day so any player can be replaced.

"Paul is still a great player. But I left, [Cristiano] Ronaldo left, [Mark] Hughes left, [David] Beckham left, and United are still one of the best clubs in the world."

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