The Monday Profile: Ben Watson
Robert Martinez’s sagacity in affording Ben Watson his first game of the season for Wigan Athletic yesterday was repaid in shovelfuls as the midfielder engineered a football club-defining performance to help Latics defeat the Arsenal. The Londoner was recalled from a loan at West Bromwich Albion at the start of April and those who have remained faithful to the Spanish manager’s romanticism will be feeling warm inside this morning.
But does this signal a new beginning for Watson, or should he expect to continue his picaresque Championship journeyings next term?
I have seen Watson in the hoops of QPR and the stripes of West Brom this season and on both occasions he looked full of power — a tall midfielder with a biting tackle and the ability to select a sweeping pass wisely. That he was dismissed harshly on the occasion of Reading’s visit to Loftus Road in October was scarcely his fault and he showed eager commitment to both of his temporary homes. It was a pleasure to see him make a difference a notch up as he did on Sunday.
But Watson, a dominant force for Crystal Palace after the Eagles’ one season sojourn in the top flight was truncated in 2005, might find his natural long term home is with the second echelon. Wigan’s multinational squad are full of shimmies and stepovers, and the likes of Paul Scharner and James McCarthy already provide the muscled grit to offset the exoticism of their colleagues. Once the injury crisis has abated, Watson might find himself fielding offers from a division down. Though a vital cog for Rangers and Baggies, one suspects that the former Glazier might be best served working for a club that will provide him with centre stage, like a Charlie Adam at Blackpool or a Gary Hooper at Scunthorpe. But having become used to the wallet enhancing nature of Premier League bench warming, will he have the self-awareness to choose his next move carefully?