“We will see. It depends”
Paolo Di Canio ’s response when asked if Lee Cattermole has a future at Sunderland. It could hardly fill Cattermole with confidence that he is required at the club. Even more telling was this quote made before Alfred N’Diaye moved back to Turkey;
“In my opinion we need a specific player with specific characteristics in there [midfield]. In the way I want to play, I want someone in the middle who can play with Cabral, Seb or even Alfred”.
Even without Di Canio’s quote it’s blindingly obvious that Cabral would be taking the defensive midfielder role in our side this year. He has Europa league and Champions League experience. He’s stronger, more athletic and quite impressive in what we’ve seen of him pre-season. Neither Cabral nor Cattermole would be expected to add goals to the side. They may not be the most technically gifted of players but we can expect Cabral break up play with a little less wincing waiting for the inevitable card.
The truth is its time for Lee Cattermole to go. He doesn’t belong at the club anymore. He kept his captaincy through both Steve Bruce’s and Martin O’Neill’s tenure in charge despite both his very poor disciplinary record on the pitch and sometimes off it also. Think about when Di Canio fines players for missing signing sessions etc. I wonder how many weeks’ wages Cattermole would have missed out on for damaging cars in Newcastle on a night out - it’s unlikely he would have kept the armband under Paolo too.
He won’t be the man to run the midfield this year. He’s barely been the man in the time he’s been at the club despite being captain. In four years at the club he’s only made 78 appearances. His injury record is abysmal going from one lengthy absence to another. Then there are his suspensions, just only 25 years old, he’s amassed 64 yellows card and 7 red cards in his so far short career. He’s tainted in the eyes of referees and the record isn’t likely to get better.
Inevitably in the revolution Di Canio is bringing about there was always going to be casualties, and high profile ones at that. Only O’Shea, Johnson and Fletcher were truly safe and if media reports are to be believed, Cattermole will be out sooner rather than later. A high earner and a relic of regimes gone by it would be good to get shot and free up another space in the squad. He wouldn’t be happy as backup and that’s all he would be from now on, fighting for playing time which would ultimately be a losing battle - that’s only if he is fit and not suspended.
It may sound thus far that I don’t like Cattermole but nothing could be further from the truth. He embodies the spirit and determination to win I love to see in central midfield and in a captain. He can be decent when fit and being Stockton born he’s a local (ish) lad and I’ve always liked local lads playing for Sunderland. Coming through Middlesbrough‘s impressive academy and playing regularly at Premier League level since he was 18 years old, as well as representing England at every level from Under 16’s upwards (apart from the seniors) he’s always had talent. No argument with that, but it’s just not going to be enough from now on.
Cattermole cost us £6 million back in 2009 and there‘s no way we‘d get anywhere near that now but if someone offered, say, £2 million, we should snap their hands off. A high earner who we just don’t need anymore. I wish him well and will applaud when he returns but hope he’s gone come the time when Jim White calls time on this window.