We get the lowdown on new Hornets signing Ben Watson from Vital Wigan
Vital Watford: Thanks for speaking to us Barry (‘warbo’). Let’s talk about our latest signing…
He’s obviously a bit of a hero at Wigan for his FA Cup final winning goal against Man City, but aside from this standout moment, how has Ben Watson been for Wigan in his time at the club? Is he a squad player or automatic starter? Has this changed over the time he’s been there?
Barry: Well you`re right he is a bit of a hero (understatement), he provided the greatest moment in our clubs history with his 90th minute goal at Wembley on that fateful day, without doubt the best day of my life, though the wife and kids threaten with disownment each time I say that.
He has been both a squad player and an automatic starter during his six seasons with the Latics, he was signed by Steve Bruce and when he first arrived he was in an out of the side, he actually spent time on loan at both QPR and West Brom, it was under Roberto Martinez that we started to see him become more of a fixture in the starting line-up.
Unfortunately for Ben he broke his leg in the 2012/13 season away at Anfield in the November, so he missed much of that season, in fact he had only returned back to the squad a couple of weeks before the cup final.
Last season he started the campaign in great form, firstly Owen Coyle, then following Coyle`s departure Uwe Rösler had Watson permanently inked on the team sheet, he`d made 31 starts by February, but once again the curse fell and he broke his leg again which saw him sidelined until November.
VW: What kind of player is Watson? My impression of him is that he sits deep and does the simple stuff well, occasionally contributing the odd goal as well. Does this sound about right? Give us some more information on his playing style.
B: Yes that does sound about right, he is a ball playing midfield man, I liken him to an American Football quarterback, he`ll take the ball off the back four and spray passes around, he does get forward well though and can pop up in the opposition box, but he isn`t what you`d call a box to box player.
He has a good range of passing and a great eye, if players are making runs he`ll find them, though he does play it simple too, great experience, he can slow the game down and take the sting out of the opposition, but sometimes the fans can find this a little frustrating as they want the killer pass every time.
VW: A lot of fans are saying that Watford need a combative central midfielder. Although Watson doesn’t fit that mould in an immediate way in my opinion, he does have tenacity and has certainly looked up for every game he’s faced us in. Does he like to put in a tackle or would you rather have someone else a little more adept at that side of the game alongside him in the middle of the park?
B: I have noticed that since his return from his double leg break that he hasn`t been getting stuck in, not that he did to any degree before, but there is a definite change, he never was a ‘combative` midfield terrier, but could make a strong challenge. Unfortunately, at the moment at least, he does appear to have lost that side of his game – not surprisingly though and maybe it is just a little psychological at the moment.
VW: Watson has been brought in by Watford to fill a hole created by injuries and players being moved on for disciplinary and work rate issues. Obviously two leg breaks in the last year isn’t the best injury record, but what’s your impression of the player’s attitude and temperament? It’s been said often that Watford need leaders and players willing to work really hard, does Watson fit the bill?
B: His attitude can never be questioned. He’s a great pro and great lad both on and off the pitch, he has captained us a few times, under different managers too (Martinez, Coyle, Rösler and Mackay), so they must see some leadership qualities in him. He isn`t a screamer nor a shouter though, but he does talk a lot and appears to be involved in all the in-game discussions around set pieces, etc.
VW: Finally, what are your feelings now that he’s left Wigan? Is there much else beyond sentimentality due to that goal making you sorry to see him leave? Do you have better options in midfield anyway?
B: Personally I am disappointed, I have always rated Watson and his style of play is one that I can appreciate. Last season prior to his injury he was on top form and if he can replicate that then you will have yourselves a great player, but life does go on and it appears that we are selling off all our ex Premier League players – for financial reasons above all else I believe and the stability of the club must come first.
We have a number of options in the middle of the park including some good youngsters, so they will undoubtedly get their chance. It just feels like a little peice of our history has now been confined to the vaults with Watson leaving, he`ll always be remembered and revered for that goal
Sir Ben Watson, thank you so very much.
VW: And thank you very much too, Barry. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.