"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

sent down and although it was unopposed by the prosecutor it was turned down again by the Magistrates which was unbelievable. 

"So we had to get our skates on and, thankfully, the Crown Court was helpful and it went before a senior judge and he granted the bail application and fixed the appeal for just a week later. When it came before the court, the judge sat with two lay magistrates and changed the sentence to 120 hours of community service.

"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.

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