Soapbox from MK Dons: Cattermole’s collision with authority, Saha shows his worth

Jake's view from Spain

Pete Sixsmith braved flooded roads, concrete cows and Cattermolian excesses to bring you this report of an otherwise satisfactory night out in Milton Keynes …

Progress made in the League Cup should be a source of satisfaction for Sunderland supporters, and for me there were many enjoyable aspects to this night out in Urban Bucks.

I suspect there was less cause for satisfaction in the O’Neill and Cattermole households than there was at Sixsmith Towers.

Since MON arrived at the club, the skipper has been on his best behaviour at least on the field. Roundly abusing the referee at the Sports Direct was not very sensible, but it looked as if some of the poor decision-making on tackles had been eliminated.

Until last night.

He was correctly given a red card by Stuart Attwell for a needless challenge on Adam Chicksen and will now miss the next three games – including the much awaited clash with Messrs Tiote and Cabaye at the Stadium of Light in three weeks.

That it was not done with malice but with enthusiasm matters not one jot.

Having lost control of the ball, he desperately wanted to regain it and he went sliding in with feet off the ground and studs up, giving the referee no alternatives to producing the fifth red card of his Sunderland career.

At the time, the game was evenly poised and it could well have run away from us. He ought to be grateful that excellent goals from Craig Gardner and James McClean bailed him out and that the likes of David Vaughan, Jack Colback, Sess and Louis Saha worked their proverbials off in order to cover for his absence.

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The two goals were well taken, Gardner’s being a free kick similar to the one at Wigan last year, while the second was a lovely finish after the type of mazy run that typified McClean’s debut season.

The whole team worked hard to limit the home boys to the odd long shot. David Meyler did well as a makeshift central defender alongside the cool and thoughtful Matt Kilgallon and Danny Rose impressed again, with crisp tackles and neat passing.

See footnote for your cut-price copy of Louis Saha's book
O’Neill showed his man management skills by giving Louis Saha a full game. The Frenchmen started well, faded a bit at the end of the first half and then spent the second as a lone striker. The blistering pace may have gone, but he cushions the ball well with his chest and lays it off equally well with his head. He knows he is an almost permanent substitute, but I would imagine that this immensely dignified and articulate man (yes, I have read his book) would have enjoyed the 90 minutes.

It was good to see us win on a night where Everton, City and West Ham went out. It was also a nostalgic night for me as the evening turned into a Bishop Auckland Grammar School reunion.

Outside the ground I bumped into Alan Wanless, a fearsome and fearless centre forward in his Northern League days, and as we were chatting on the concourse inside, we spotted Phil Younghusband, a Shildon lad who has been in Bedfordshire for many years and is a long standing Sunderland fan.

A few minutes later, Geoff Mangan, oft of these pages, tapped me on the shoulder; he had driven over from Essex with his son. Like me, these two scions of South West Durham were retired teachers; Phil had ended up doing some work with the Watford FC Academy and had had the good fortune to meet the legend known as Nyron a couple of times.

Add to that the arrival of Keith Judd, a year above us at school and the fact that I was sat next to two former students in Gareth Walton and David Nunn, both cracking lads and that Stephen Norris, formerly of Ferryhill and now landlord of The Shovels at Squires Gate and you can see why I enjoyed the night so much.

The trip down had been difficult, taking an hour to get from Scotch Corner to Catterick, but plain sailing (almost literally) after that. I stayed at a Travelodge a cockstride from Northampton Towns Sixfields stadium, and had there been a reserve game on there this afternoon, I would have ticked it off.

Which is probably what Martin O’Neill is doing to Lee Cattermole right now.

* Buy the Louis Saha book for just £10.49 – ie best part of a fiver off – and all other SAFC-related needs at the Salut! Sunderland Amazon link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B005Z1UTYQ/salusund-21

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5 thoughts on “Soapbox from MK Dons: Cattermole’s collision with authority, Saha shows his worth”

  1. Malcolm has summed up the whole Cattermole debate for me, in pointing out that the overwhelming majority of his rash tackles are pointless when there is little at stake.

    How often have we seen one of the now infamous Clatter ’em all lunges on a player bearing down on goal for example? The answer is never. It’s more than likely that it occurs immediately after he has made a chump of himself giving the ball away easily and it’s in the process of making amends that he gets the red.

    I’ve said this before and I will say it again. He’s nowhere near as good as the majority think he is, and he’s a complete nutter.

    Would you want your daughter bringing this lad home?

    Give ower!

  2. Most teams have someone whose role is to break up play and give the ball to the ball carriers but they tend not to get 5 red cards during a relatively short time at their club.
    I have been critical in the past about Catts, but also really like him when he is controlled – but if you take the lad out of Stockton, can you take the Stockton…… (if, indeed that is where he hails from, I am sure I have read that he was allegedly banned from 2 Stockton pubs).
    MoN has been right (typically) to show faith in Catts and this has generally been rewarded, but I fear that he is still Catts and under pressure, the uncontrolled aggression comes out. He could well have been a liability against the Mags.
    We sat next to the esteemed author/sports journalist that is Sixer (£5 surcharge), occasionally in thoughtful silence at some periods of unexciting football lacking the type of penetration that we dream of against any side, let alone one from a coldbed of English footy. In fact, had it been Bruce on the touchline, he would have been getting grief from the excellent Sunderland turn out. Thanks Gards and McClean for their respective flashes of inspiration – sadly the only two flashes on the night. Thankfully, although we were very good at the back, MK were shite up front.
    However, what counts is that we won, and in the end, quite safely. I suspect Wigan will get a different welcome on Saturday and more likely against 11 men for 90+ mins.
    Incidentally, it was amusing that the poor MK lad who had the misfortune to be within a yard of Catts when he lunged studs up for the ball that was running away from him, was roundly booed for the rest of the game.

  3. Judging by the tone of the managers comments, I would think it is more than likely that he will lose the captaincy to O’Shea and that contract talks will be put on hold.
    He will be available for the Boro League Cup game. That could be interesting.

  4. I think we’re a little hard on Cattermole. The type of role he’s employed in is to break up the oponents play. That means he has to be aggressive and challenge for the ball. I just think with Lee is that he gets carried away and lunges in sometimes. He’s worked hard on eliminating that but made a mistake last night. He’s passionate and its more instinct compared to a malicious, uncontrollable streak.
    He’s a good leader too.
    However, I think he’s replaceable with Colback probably filling that role and Vaughn stepping in (who is a good playmaker on his day). Colback and Vaughn can nab the odd goal, Cattermole cannot. I don’t see him being out for three games as a major handicap, although I do like his ability in midfield to break up play. I’m sure he’ll be more careful from now on.

  5. A day off work Mr Sixsmith? Did the Head know you were playing hookey to stay in a Travel Lodge a la Alan Partridge? I trust there was a deranged gun obsessed Geordie there and you raided the mini bar whilst wearing lederhosen!

    One of the things (among many) that worries me about Cattermole’s red cards is that they all seem to be in areas of the pitch where there is little or no danger. They’d be irresponsible enough if they were just outside the penalty area but almost all of them are needless and maybe just about expected in the Northern League but not at a so called professional level.

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