BEN Watson has admitted the end of the season could not have come at a worse time for him.
The Wigan midfielder endured a frustrating first half to the 2010-11 campaign, when he struggled to get much game-time.
But it was a different story after Christmas, when the 25-year-old displaced Hendry Thomas in the starting line-up and played an integral role in Latics retaining their Premier League status.
Watson shone in the ‘quarterback’ role created for him by Roberto Martinez, and admits he can’t wait to resume duty next term.
“I’ve been happy with my own form, the new role has suited me,” Watson told the Evening Post. “For most of my Wigan career I’ve played further forward, but the gaffer asked me to do a job a bit further back and I enjoyed it.”
Watson’s end-of-season form mirrored that of his team, who went about their business with the minimum of fuss, missing out on the plaudits but getting the job done at the end of the day.
“Over the last couple of months we played really well, but we just couldn’t pull away from the bottom of the table,” Watson added.
“There was a run of games when we came against most of the top teams, and I felt we more than held our own without getting the results.
“We felt if we carried on playing well then the results would come – and happily they did.
“The thing is, a lot of people outside the club don’t see performances, they just see results.
“And at the end of the day, when you’re not getting results then most people are going to write you off.
“As a squad of players, though, we tried to ignore what everyone has been saying – we knew everyone had already written us off, and it didn’t bother us in the slightest.”
Watson will be one of the first names on the team sheet when the new campaign gets underway in August, and Martinez says the sky’s the limit if he can hold his form.
“Since he started playing in that new position, Ben has completely mastered it,” the Wigan boss acknowledged.
“Sometimes you need a prolonged period of around 20-25 games to make an impact in a position, but Ben has quickly become a very important player in the team.
“He is at the right moment in his career now, and he’s developed a great understanding of the game.
“Technically he is a very gifted player, and I feel we’ll see and hear about a lot more in the future from Ben Watson.”