Scapegoat for some and first-team staple to others, Ben Watson has picked up where Ben Osborn left off at Nottingham Forest.

He is now the City Ground ‘Marmite Man’.

You either love him or hate him, with there seemingly no middle ground.

Which is ironic given that is where he operates on the field.

Sabri Lamouchi sits firmly in the ‘love him’ camp.

Like those immediately before him, the Forest boss has taken a shine to a veteran midfielder.

Aitor Karanka signed Watson, while Martin O’Neill offered fresh hope.

Lamouchi has delivered another clean slate.

Watson has snapped it up.

Ability

Image Credit: Nottingham Forest

Through six Championship games, the 34-year-old has taken in 500 minutes.

He has made six starting XIs and been removed from the fold just twice.

The captain’s armband is now the property of Michael Dawson, but a former skipper is looking to play a leading role.

Plenty have questioned his ability to do just that.

For them, Watson is a passenger the Reds could do without.

There have been occasions in which the FA Cup winner has done his cause few favours, with ageing limbs seemingly catching up with him and his positional play queried.

He has, however, been solid enough on the whole.

Watson is, in many ways, what he has always been – steady.

Rarely will he be the star man or someone to dominate the headlines, but neither will he let anyone down or allow his commitment to be called into question.

Bite

 

He has a job to do and he does it with the minimum of fuss.

Forest almost certainly boast players with greater technical ability, younger legs and more bite.

Watson, though, is keeping a few of them on the outside looking in.

As things stand, nobody can better his passing accuracy in the Reds side (83.84), which suggests that he is keeping things ticking over just fine.

Only Jack Robinson has won the ball back on more occasions, with the Forest left-back and Samba Sow the only men to have made more tackles.

Watson only sits behind Sow and Joe Worrall when it comes to interceptions, while nobody has made more blocks.

He is doing the dirty work.

His are qualities that can often be overlooked.

You do, however, not need to be Sherlock Holmes to appreciate the value of Watson and the important support role he plays in allowing others to shine.