Bolton Soapbox: Cattermole causes Coyle to complain

If Saturday in Sunderland was cold by normal standards, it was positively balmy by comparison with what was happening almost everywhere else. But 1245 is a rotten kickoff time, as witnessed by empty seats that cannot all be attributed to the weather. All the same, three good points made it all seem like a heatwave. Pete Sixsmith reports on the tough encounter that awaited those of us who made the effort …

Could there have been a worse time for this game? The Saturday before Christmas, a 1245 kick off and visitors who rarely bring more than a couple of coachloads of fans.

Add to that the fact that many people still see Bolton as the personification of grimness in football and I think we did bloody well to attract just under 35,000 Sunderland fans to the Stadium on Saturday.

What we saw was the kind of game that we would have drawn last season, as we began our mid season slump down the table. This season we won it, giving us our 27th point of a season that is going rather well.

We won it for three basic reasons. First of all, we had a quality strike force, one of whom took the only real chance of the game, enabling us to win as Bolton’s forwards never looked like scoring.

Secondly, we had a phenomenal save from Craig Gordon that was up there with Monty’s save from Roy Greenwood at Hull in 1973. Look at the players congratulating him and then you realise exactly how good it was.

Finally, we may just have seen Anton Ferdinand complete his transformation from immature younger brother into a footballer in his own right. He had an outstanding game and showed composure and leadership – words that in the past have been used about him as often as honest and sincere have about Nick Clegg – throughout the 90 minutes.

As Big John Mensah hobbled off after a crunching challenge from Kevin Davies, some of us expected Anton to have a fit of the vapours. But he didn’t. He took control of the back four and stood up to the occasional rough house tactics that Bolton can still do better than anyone else in this league.

Chris Foy also helped us with a refereeing performance that left most of the crowd howling in frustration.

If his booking of Cahill was the right decision, the yellow card he waved at Lee Cattermole was as wrong a decision as I have seen all season.

He then compounded the error by not giving our skipper a second yellow for a foolish lunge at Elmander in the second half. Catts should have gone. He knew it; he walked away from the incident and had the Sneaky Swede not made quite as much of it as he did by rolling around like a man auditioning for the part of a barrel going over Niagara Falls, he would have had his third sending off of the season.

Foy reverted to the old Sunday morning adage, as perfected by the late George Elliott of Shildon, that a shocking decision early in the game was cancelled out by an equally shocking one later on. You could just about get away with it in the Wear Valley Sunday League, but the FA Premier League is just a wee bit more intense.

It wasn’t a great performance, but we cannot reach the heights of the Chelsea and Arsenal games every week and progress should be measured by beating the sides around us. This we did and some churlish commentators, who think that Owen Coyle’s Bolton are the new Barcelona, need to accept that we are making steady, if unspectacular, progress and that it is Sunderland who are the team who could just come through at the end of the season.

There were no poor performers in this side. Each and every one of them did their jobs and stuck to their tasks. The midfield worked hard, at times being one short as Welbeck joined Bent and Gyan up front. Kieran Richardson ran and ran and tackled as well as I have seen him. Pity about the free kicks, though; save one for January 16th, Kieran.

And so we trundled home in an area unaffected by the snow that wiped out most of the Premier League fixture list. The Blackburn West Ham game made ours sound like Real Madrid v Eintracht Frankfurt Hampden classic and once again we could think how lucky we are to have Messrs Short and Quinn at the helm rather than a know nothing collective of chicken farmers or a couple of East End Geezers with the dress sense of a child let loose in the clothes box.

Manchester United on Sunday without Welbeck, Cattermole and Mensah. Could we see one of our hitherto invisible South Americans turning out at Old Trafford? I’m not holding my breath.

13 thoughts on “Bolton Soapbox: Cattermole causes Coyle to complain”

  1. Don’t refs have an informal 3 tier system anyway? They’ll start by verbally warning a player and if he carries on then he’ll get a yellow.

  2. It is the consistency factor which concerns me. Not just between teams/players but where on the pitch an offence occurs, whether it is for or against the attacking team etc.

    Watch any game and (for example) – how much manhandling goes on at a corner? You will see defenders wrestling attackers out of the equation. Very rarely will you see a penalty never mind a red/yellow card. Near the half way line it’s an easy card and a fee kick. A forward wrestles the centre half – free kick awarded.

    Go back a few years. How often was Quinny fouled in the build up play with nothing given? As soon as he used his strength to push off a defender the whistle went.

    With the Cattermole examples this season. Had he made that ludicrous tackle that got him the yellow against Birmingham before the tug in midfield – would he have been sent off? I doubt it. Like wise at Wigan the second challenge warranted a booking but would the first had got him sent off if it had happened subsequently? Had the infringements been the other way around he might well have stayed on the pitch.

    Other players at other clubs suffer too so this isn’t a “have a go at refs/stick up for Catts” rant. Just a “can we not have some sort of common sense approach?” rant.

  3. That’s a really great suggestion Sobs. There have been huge changes in the game over the last few decades. The nature of dirty play has changed considerably with more examples of players using elbows to foul, while “good tackles” where the ball is won, admittedly from behind are now outlawed and subject to a yellow card. As a result of the above there are now more ‘opportunities” (lets put it that way) for referees to start dishing out cards. It means there are more suspensions, and we are seeing an increasing number of examples where players get two cards for barely making a bad tackle. You could include the notion of being the “last man” in the above equation too.

    In ice hockey the ‘sin bin’ is for 2 minutes for most infringements. It works because being a man short (with fewer players) for a short period invariably leads to a goal. It would have to be a longer period (5 mins?) in football, although the severity of the offence could be determined by the officials. So, it could be 3 mins or extended to 6/7 or whatever.

    I think it would work and there is the potential to make the game more interesting if it was used appropriately by officials.

  4. Malcolm – they have that 3 tier card system in field hockey – first one tells the player that the ref won’t tolerate that sort of thing, second is a sin-bin, third is sending off (permanently). Worth a try in football?

  5. Wise words Sam and always welcome to get a reasoned view from the other side! It’s pretty obvious that the ref didn’t see the foul – so that’s fortunate from our perspective. As you say there is provision in the law to give a yellow card for the shirt pull but it’s a soft booking. More like a half a yellow. Perhaps the officials could have beige card that worth half a yellow. Two beige + 1 yellow = 2 yellow = 1 red! :-))

  6. Nah , the moment’s gone now
    I was just musing at how you view things differently , live at the match , compared to watching the recording at home .
    At the match , i was berating Richardson for most of the first half – at home he had a good game !!
    At the match I was calling Elmander a cheat – and although he made a meal of it – Catts actually did foul him (that’s at home , not at the match )
    Having watched it 3 times – I still think we won 1 – 0

  7. But these may be precious words that will otherwise be lost for ever, Daveyb! Think of our cultural heritage.

    Seriously, I’m sorry you’ve had problems. Maybe the people will explain – I have no idea at what length comments become unmanageable. Less seriously, you could always post yours in chunks. Even War and Peace can be serialised.

  8. I just submitted a bloody 1,000 word comment and it wouldn’t let me submit it !!!!!!!!!!!!
    Well i’m not repeating it !!!!!!!

  9. I just saw replays of Craig Gordon’s save. From one angle, it looks like a lucky touch. But then from others, it’s apparent how much control he had. World-class.

  10. Cattermoles first yellow was a shirt grab preventing a promising counter attack and by the letter of the law it’s a card. Clumsy is all that can be said about his second. Should have gone though. No use lamenting that though as a Bolton fan. Still had 45 minutes to get an equaliser in what was a bloody tight game. Fair play to you guys you showed great grit at the back in the last 15 despite all the injury problems, along with some untypical poor finishing from us. Although not the prettiest of games you could tell these were 2 units deserving of their league positions. Race you to the Europa league!

  11. Ian is right. We also thought “no foul, appalling play acting by Elmander” until we saw MoTD. Cattermole is clearly seen acknowledging that he caught him. It did not merit the outrageous acrobatics of Elmander, or his rolling around in what I am sure was fake agony, but it is difficult to imagine that Foy could have avoided showing the second card had he seen it properly.

    I still believe that the first yellow was extremely harsh, a thought with which the reports I have seen concur. And as has been pointed out elsewhere, without even getting into the Kevin Davies elbowing of Ferdinand, Elmander himself arguably committed three yellow offences in the first half.

  12. From my vantage point it looked as though Cattermole had got the ball and that Elmander was over-reacting in the hope of getting him dismissed. The ball seemed to continue in the same line as Lee’s slide and perhaps Foy thought the same though TV afterwards showed we were both wrong.

  13. In all the kerfuffle about whether or not Cattermole should have been shown a second yellow, little has been made of the fact that the ref didn’t award a free kick in the first place. Now either he decided that the first yellow had been harsh and overlooked a foul that would have warranted a card or he didn’t see it.

    I am inclined to think (at least I hope) that he thought it a fair tackle. Ignoring a foul just avoid having to send a player off is surely not on any referee’s agenda is it? Remember we are talking Sunderland here not Man Ure or Chelski!

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