If Nottingham Forest midfielder Ben Watson were to go into the baking trade, then he could make a killing in humble pie outside the City Ground.

Plenty have been on a steady diet of said dish this season.

Seeing the name ‘Watson’ back on the teamsheet over the summer had many ready to turn off the oven and throw in the towel.

They have come crawling back, fork in hand.

Please Sir, can we have some more!

Watson has been a revelation so far in 2019-20, so much so that the ‘Super Benny’ moniker has been dusted off and rolled back out.

He must have thought those days were long gone.

Plenty of those who continue to pack onto the terraces on Trentside definitely did.

There can, however, be no questioning that Forest are, as things stand, a better side when Watson gets the nod.

Which he has done on an ever-present basis so far this season.

Assistance

Image Credit: Nottingham Forest

He has started all 11 Championship games taken in to this point, and finished nine of them.

Plenty of time has been found to help out on the field while offering assistance in the kitchen.

Two goals, a feat previously unheard of for the 34-year-old, have added to the ingredients on offer.

Sitting in that deep-lying midfield post, Watson has influenced proceedings at both ends of the field.

Forest have 22 points and a second-placed standing to their name as a result.

The man donning the No.8 shirt is not entirely responsible for those achievements, but he has played a leading role.

And that is something he can claim to have done across his time in Nottingham.

It is only now that his value is being truly recognised, but he has rarely let the Reds down.

Aitor Karanka bought into his vast experience, Martin O’Neill did likewise and Sabri Lamouchi has continued the trend.

Ageing legs he may have, but his football brain is in full working order.

Forest have benefited from that to the tune of 17 wins from the 42 league games Watson has taken in.

Available

 

They have taken a point from 14 other outings and come unstuck on only 11 occasions.

That is a win percentage of 40.5.

Take Watson out of the equation, which has happened 32 times, and that dips considerably to 31.2.

Without him, when he has been available, the Reds have picked up just 10 wins, 11 draws and suffered another 11 defeats.

On average, 1.5 points per game is collected with Watson in the engine room and 1.3 when he is otherwise engaged.

The Reds average more goals with him (1.3 to 1.2) and concede fewer (1.1 to 1.2).

There is not much in those marks, but it all adds up over the course of a long, hard second tier slog.

Especially when you consider that numbers should continue to head in the right direction now that a settled and productive system has been established – as opposed to the sometimes experimental and inconsistent approaches of the recent past.

There is no denying it anymore, Watson is a key cog in the machine.

Like it or lump, believer or doubter, that humble pie is seemingly set to remain on the menu for the foreseeable future.

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