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Cats skipper pledges not to change his approach
Published : 26 Dec 2009 11:03:30
HE might boast one of the worst disciplinary records in the Premier League, but Sunderland skipper Lorik Cana will not be changing the combative approach that has already earned him one red card and six bookings this season. Only Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano has picked up more disciplinary points than Cana, and Sunderland undoubtedly missed the Albania international's steadying influence as they conceded four goals at Manchester City last weekend while he was sitting out the one-game ban that accompanied his dismissal against Aston Villa. Cana's willingness to throw himself into hefty challenges has incurred the wrath of a number of Premier League referees, who have tended to clamp down on anything that has been slightly mistimed or misdirected. The midfielder has already served two suspensions, but as he prepares to face Everton at the Stadium of Light this afternoon, Cana has ruled out a change in approach. It is part of football, and I always try to be fair when I play, said the Black Cats captain, who will resume his midfield partnership with Lee Cattermole for the first time in more than two months. I try to be strong, but I also try to be fair and that will not change. Only once in my life have I had a red card for any reason apart from a tackle or strong play, and that was in France for a stupid thing. I always try to be fair and play the ball, but sometimes you are late or use too much power, that's just football. I hope people can see I am not a bad guy or someone who would try to injure an opponent. In years gone by, Cana's competitive approach would have been viewed as the norm, and referees would have been willing to tolerate a string of infringements before reaching for a card. Times have changed, and with the tackle from behind having been outlawed along with anything that resembles a two-footed challenge, players who make a large number of tackles in a game are finding that bookings and dismissals are simply part and parcel of their role. The difference between the interpretation of the rules on the continent and the attitude of English referees is decreasing, and Cana believes that Premier League officials are making a conscious attempt to fall into line with standards that have long been prevalent in France, Italy or Spain. Are the (English) referees becoming more contintenal Yes, he said. They have to do that now because with all the European competitions, you cannot have one type of referee here and a different type in the rest of Europe. They have to be as one. They have to be uniform. Things have changed not the game, but the referees. It is a difficult job and they just try to carry out the instructions they are given, so it is up to players to be as fair as possible and to try to play the ball. The most important thing is that the referees understand that I am not a dangerous guy for the opponent and that I don't want to injure anyone at all. That message does not appear to have got through yet, but Cana is hoping that the rapport he is beginning to strike up with the Premier League referees will help limit the number of bookings he picks up in the second half of the season. As Sunderland's captain, Cana is permitted to discuss decisions with the referee while the game is going on, and the former Marseille skipper has been impressed by the willingness of English referees to explain their approach and decision-making. Referees here make some mistakes, but what is good about English referees is that you can talk to them, he said. Especially for me as captain, sometimes we have a chat before and during the game. If you want to talk with the referee to find out why they have done something, or because he needs your help, you can talk. When we speak before the game, we try to work together so we know what he needs for him and my team as well. That shows the referee is not a robot. He is a real person. That is the really good thing about English football. It is very different to France in this respect because, in France, you just can't talk with the referee. He's just like a robot. Here, they are just trying to do their job like I do, and what happens, happens. But it is not a problem.