Stephen Goldsmith writes, It seems we’re back to the Cattermole debate again. Well, not really. I have made my feelings and opinion known on his importance to the side so Idon’t want to cover too much old ground. It appears, like me, O’Neill is prepared to persevere with his captain despite the potential percentage of games he may miss though suspension. At least until other, more critical positions in the team are improved.
Some think he shouldn’t be awarded this luxury, however. It’s just as a prevalent opinion amongst the Sunderland supporting community that he’s a liability and should be replaced, as it is to hear my views.
I’m fine with that.
Football always has been, and always will be, about opinions. From the boardroom, to the dugout to the terraces. The way in which everybody interprets the same thing differently is a major chunk of the concept that is the beautiful game itself. Don Hutchison has spoke out about Lee Cattermole over the weekend saying he doesn’t see a player in Lee. Fair enough. Or is it?
And as Don played the game to an exceptionally high level then his opinion outweighs mine anyway, right? Not really.
Not when any argument presented is as uneducated as this one. And by
educated I don’t mean the ability to display qualities in your speech or writing that is academically acclaimed or the like. Nor do I mean that it should be displaying the mind of a tactical or analytical genius. I mean educated as in informed, at least a little. When you’re in the punditry business that’s the least you expect – and this Don Hutchison dross is certainly more Mark Lawrenson/Alan Shearer than it is Gary Neville/Stan Collymore.
It’s not the fact that Hutch doesn’t rate Catts that I have an issue with. As previously mentioned, plenty are of that opinion and are perfectly entitled to it. It’s the attempted justification of his opinion -and worse – the advice offered that I take issue with. It reeks of someone who evidently doesn’t watch Lee play in the flesh on a regular basis.
It’s that he uses the ‘modern game has moved on’ rationale and that apparently Lee is an ‘enforcer’ that is outdated. The contradictions and flaws start to poke you clean in the face from here. Don suggests Lee “should sit in front of the centre halves”, and with that we have the first indication of a comment coming from somebody who has been mostly absent from The Stadium of Light this season. Or attending with their blinkers on. One recurrent criticism of the side this season has been how deep it sits. Cattermole is part of the remedy of that problem, rather than the cause. Sitting deep and refusing to drive forward is possibly the most detrimental thing our captain could do on his return to the side. Certainly at present with N’Diaye as raw as he is and with exceptional game plans against specific teams excluded.
And I’m perfectly sure that Lee is more than capable of winning the ball deep and moving it on instantly. If he was doing otherwise against the manager’s instructions he would be subsequently dropped, surely?
I see that basic and uninformed suggestion to be created by sheer ignorance. For all Lee may be a primarily ‘defensive’ midfielder, his drive on the ball gives the whole side shape and presses them higher up the pitch. How we have missed that in his absence.
It’s painfully evident that we have had Larsson, Colback, Gardner and Vaughan all sit deep and pull our offensive players too far back already this season – Catts and N’Diaye are designed to be the presence that pulls the side forward.
If I were Lee, from here “I would make it my mission to feed Sessegnon, McClean, Fletcher and Graham”. Oh, hold on, Don said that as well! But I thought he was just to sit in front of the back four? That would suggest that playing that deep and feed these attacking players would constitute the long ball or for them to drop deeper themselves. We need either scenario like a hole in the head. Protect the back four he does, suggesting he shouldn’t move forward and limit his game to only this is nonsense.
And what of this ‘modern game has moved on’ rationale? Don suggests we should play 442 but hasn’t the game, what’s the phrase, moved on from this? Contradictions. Now before people get their knickers in a twist, I want us to play Fletcher and Graham in the same side. There’s goals in that combination and it needs to be brought to the forefront of our game plan. I highly doubt it will be a basic 442 though, more like a 4231 and while that may seem pedantic, if you are apparently offering insight as a pundit that is more than relevant.
And wait, there’s more!
The opinion card could have probably been used by Don up until this point. Mr Hutchison then took to Twitter, however, to elaborate more. Lucky us. Apparently Cattermole just isn’t up to the standards of Schwarz, McCann or Ball. That’s Kevin Ball, the ultimate midfield enforcer if ever there was one. The ‘enforcer’ the game has moved away from.
The irony behind using Bally as a comparison is just too laughable for words. For the record, I loved Bally. He was iconic of what it was to be associated with Sunderland at the time. 100% commitment when the chips were really down. I would suggest it’s vastly unfair on Cattermole to imply he is below the footballing ability of Kevin Ball, though. One thing this current Premier League mediocrity safeguards for the payers is that my generation can barely compare them unfavourably to the players of when we were growing up. Because during the vast part of Kevin’s Sunderland career the chips really were down. And as our former captain played the majority of his career outside the top flight, the current one has never played outside it and doesn’t look to be doing so in any hurry.
Comparing Bally and Catts isn’t the path I want to go down anyway. He made me do it, I swear.
For the record, I also like Don Hutchison. He was nothing short of magnificent in his season here and I’m glad he enjoys speaking about Sunderland these days after telling Talk Sport he regretted the badge kissing antics at Newcastle.
Read Don Hutchinson’s account here:http://www.sundaysun.co.uk/sport/sunderland-afc/safc-news/2013/02/17/hutchison-s-blast-for-sunderland-skipper-cattermole-79310-32825025/