When Salut! Sunderland goes on tour: the Cattermole debate moves to ESPN

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Most people
coming here know by now that ESPN has asked me to contribute to its FC Network club-by-club pages.

Several articles have appeared there already. The idea is that they have to be original, not just copy-and-paste exercises reproducing material from Salut! Sunderland.

I sometimes develop thoughts aired here or find a different way of looking at the same subjects – you’d expect nothing less given that both forums are SAFC-related – but by and large there is cross-reference but not duplication.

Sunderland supporters have been having their say this week, here and elsewhere, about Lee Cattermole’s latest sending off. That is my topic at ESPN today. I can give this short extract:

… The loss of Cattermole is actually quite a blow. If only we could overlook the antecedents – which, sadly, extends to off-the-field brushes with the law – it would be to reflect on the considerable virtues he possesses as a player. The season is young but Cattermole has already recorded some notably displays; he even seemed to have realised at last that recklessness is not the same as wholehearted commitment.
[but] once again, it is a case of lamenting the failure of this talented but wayward young footballer to add a sense of discipline to his undoubted abilities to win the ball and break up opposition attacks (his distribution can be flawed but that places him in plentiful company at Sunderland)

Catts by Jake

If you agree or disagree – first having read the whole piece at this link: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland?cc=5739 – I’d be grateful if you could post any comments there as well as saying what you want here.

The one thing I’d add, which is not covered in the piece at ESPN, is that Paul Hayward, a former colleague and also a sportswriter I like and respect, seemed to me to get it completely wrong with his tweet saying:

Many Sunderland fans appear to worship Lee Cattermole, and will dish out rabid abuse if you criticise his tackling. It’s been an education.

Apart from misreading rabid as racist, I think I was about spot on with my reply: “A ‘few’ fans of any club spout nonsense/racism. Most #safc fans loathe his indiscipline. Cd be a good player”

Paul did have the grace to acknowledge another SAFC supporter who made a similar point.

But it is a common misunderstanding to assume
* that “most” of us believe Cattermole can do no wrong, or are anything other than appalled at each disciplinary lapse

* that he has no more to offer football than rash, even dangerous tackles. As my headline put it at ESPN … Cattermole: rough diamond or ‘a thug but our thug?’.

Monsieur Salut, by Matt
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4 thoughts on “When Salut! Sunderland goes on tour: the Cattermole debate moves to ESPN”

  1. I think Cattermole is a liability, how he has kept the captains armband this long is beyond me, yes he may give his heart and soul out on the pitch but he is too flighty and will spend more times on cautions or bans throughout the season than actually playing football.

  2. Clatter ’em all is something of an enigma. I’m not even sure if it’s a “temper” issue with him Bill. Maybe he is just thick, and incapable of any kind of self appraisal. He certainly has no appreciation of the consequences of his actions. As you also say, there is very rarely any doubt, and it’s difficult to think of a red card incident where you thought that he had been harshly treated by the referee. To some extent it’s a relief, of sorts when he emerges from any challenge without incurring the wrath of the officials.

  3. I agree with Jeremy. Cattermole CAN (though he isn’t always) be very valuable to the team and he’s capable of playing excellent football. But if he can’t keep himself under control, and that extends to not mouthing off at the ref, then he’s not someone who can be counted on. He’s always going to be at risk of being carded, with the concomitant games that he misses. That’s not the mark of a team player, much less a team captain. As Jeremy says, he doesn’t learn from his “mistakes.” His temper flares, his ego rises and in he goes, whatever the consequences. Time and time again. It’s been argued that referees seldom give him the benefit of the doubt. It could also be argued that there seldom IS any doubt. Until he gets himself under control, his importance to the team is seriously compromised. Maybe what he needs is a Joey Barton-style course in anger-management.

  4. I think that Paul Hayward has a point Salut. I realise that I am in a minority, but his importance to the team in the early stage of this season can be largely explained by the absence of both Gardner and Colback from the midfield in a proportion of games. His recklessness and inability to learn from such frequently repeated errors of judgement is all too often resisted by a great number of our fans, and very much in the way that Paul suggests. He is likened to Kevin Ball by many, but Ball did not suffer from the reckless indiscipline which Cattermole has in abundance.

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