In December 1995, Manchester United were in the midst of an injury crisis at centre-back. Top senior defenders Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce and David May were unavailable for selection.
United needed a new and fast centre-back. Cantona suggested his teammate, William Prunier, with whom he had played at the Auxerre academy.
Prunier, 28, jumped at the chance to move to the Red Devils and terminated his contract with Bordeaux to secure a dream transfer.
It was initially on a trial basis, the idea being that United could look at Prunier during practice and see if he was up to the task.
But then that plan never worked and due to another injury blow, this time to the super reliable Denis Irwin, Prunier was thrown into the deep end.
He performed well in his debut, even providing an assist for Andy Cole in a 2–1 win over Queens Park Rangers on 30 December.
He also landed a long-range shot against the bar and looked like he could do a job for United.
But the Premier League’s second game didn’t go so smoothly after Ferguson said it would be the real test for Prunier.
United, with their makeshift defence, traveled to White Hart Lane to play Spurs a few days later and their preparations were marred by Paul Scholes falling ill before kickoff, and Peter Schmeichel pulling on his calf but fighting as best he could for the first few 45 minutes. minutes.
What followed was a crushing 4-1 defeat on New Year’s Day, a result that ended Prunier’s experience at United.
He was said to have received a “prolonged trial”, despite the player himself claiming that a three-year contract was on the table but could not be ruled out.
In his 2015 autobiography ‘Leading’ Ferguson labeled Prunier a ‘disaster’ and he was voted United’s sixth worst player in a poll.
Prunier racked up nearly 500 appearances and, in addition to winning the Intertoto Cup alongside Zinedine Zidane in Bordeaux, played for Auxerre, Copenhagen, Marseille, Napoli and Toulouse.
He also signed a contract with Hearts but never played a single game after not feeling wanted.
Prunier was capped once by France and named to the Ligue One Team of the Year in 2002/03.
Asked if being described as a failure bothers him, Prunier said the telegraph: “No, everyone thinks what they want. It was a very enriching experience, a dream and an honor, and I don’t regret it.”
The 54-year-old has embarked on a coaching career and is currently assistant coach at Le Mans in the French third division.