Emmanuel Petit: Fans need to stop comparing Zlatan Ibrahimovic with Eric Cantona

by Leo Nieboer

Former Arsenal defender Emmanuel Petit has called for fans to stop comparing Zlatan Ibrahimovic with Manchester United legend Eric Cantona.

The Swede, upon his arrival in July, enjoyed a playful game of words with Cantona, responding to the Frenchman’s assertion that there can only be ‘one king in Manchester’ by insisting he would be the ‘God’ of Manchester instead.

Zlatan did make something of a god-like start at Old Trafford after netting six goals in five games, but has now gone six games without a goal.

Pettit, who played alongside Cantona for France, claimed that Ibrahimovic could never match the Frenchman’s intimidatory nature.

“When people say Ibrahimovic is like Cantona… he’s not at all, not at all, at all,” he said.

“‘Canto’, if he wanted to kick you in the head, he would do it. If he lost it, he would do it.

“Cantona was strong in the face of strong opponents, he stood up to them. Ibra, when you start to get at him in a match – I’ve seen the batterings he’s taken in England – even if he replies sometimes. Yes, he has character and personality, but don’t say ‘Ibra’ is like ‘Canto’. He isn’t at all.”

Of course, no man on earth could ever recapture the sheer braggadocio brought by Cantona. Only the Frenchman himself, with his incredible kung-fu skills and choice of words (seagulls, etc.), could exude such a timeless aura.

That said, Zlatan’s showman-like, arrogant countenance does, in some way, evoke memories of the King himself. A moment during Wednesday’s clash with Manchester City served as a case in point: most players moan at the referee, perhaps wildly gesticulating as part of their unsuccessful plea for innocence. Not Zlatan, though. Zlatan stares at Nicolas Otamendi, with those enormous, predator-like eyes penetrating the Argentine’s very soul, and grabs his crotch, maintaining his glare for the entire time.

One couldn’t help but think that Cantona, watching at home, would very much approve.

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