"Matthew Simmons actually got a stiffer sentence than Eric did when his case eventually came to court. It took a long time because there were suggestions he couldn't get a fair trial but he was convicted in a more serious case than Eric's."
Cantona took his punishment seriously and committed himself fully to training local schoolchildren before making an emotional return to action against Liverpool in front of a packed Old Trafford.
"We spent a little bit of time speaking to the authorities about the nature of what the community service should be," explained Watkins. "We wanted to make it something worthwhile that meant something so Eric and other people would benefit.
"I think it was 700 people who got to train with Eric and, of course, they were boys and girls as well. He did five afternoons a week for six weeks and put his back into it. He dealt with it properly, the club supported it and I think we made all the right decisions from that point of view.
"We were disappointed when he came before the FA tribunal and they increased the suspension. We'd acted properly as we knew the incident warranted prompt action, which was only right, but it was an unprecedented suspension and disappointing they added on more.
"I think the only result of that was that where other clubs were faced with situations of a similar type they did not deal with it themselves but left it to the FA. I think, as responsible employers and with a responsibility to the game, it's important you deal with it and United dealt with it.
"As I've said before, he was an admirable client. He took advice, always attended meetings on time and always did what was asked of him. He was not difficult to deal with at all and was, in fact, very pleasant. It must have been a serious strain for him, particularly with not playing as well, and I think he handled himself very well, coming back firing for the Liverpool game.