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"Once we sorted out the initial scenario and then obviously backed Eric to the hilt, to be fair he never sought to say he hadn't done anything wrong and set out what his position was."

- Maurice Watkins, ManUtd.com

01/12/2012 12:24, Report by Adam Marshall
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Watkins' view: Selhurst saga

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.

"He was a player who made a difference. I think of all the players, he was the one who could change a game. Of course, the fans loved him and he's always able to come back and has enjoyed coming back."

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