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Lee Cattermole claims ref justice but Sunderland skipper needs to learn his lesson

14 Sep 2010 10:01:48

Lee Cattermole claims ref justice but Sunderland skipper needs to learn his lesson

I think a few of us actually felt sorry for Lee Cattermole on Thursday. Some of our number met the Sunderland captain prior to his return to Wigan. Naturally central to the conversation was his disciplinary record, the red card, or double yellow against Birmingham and the responsibility that comes with the captaincy. Marching orders: Cattermole (centre) is consoled by team-mates after his red Turns out when Howard Webb came to town to assist in Steve Bruce's quest to improve the discipline for the entire team, he singled out Cattermole and that opening day dismissal. 'He had me out in front of 50 of my team-mates,' said Cattermole, who was not a happy bunny. He couldn't even sit in a team meeting and not feel singled out by referees. And the World Cup final official was in the gang too.   More from Colin Young... Colin Young: Campbell gives Toon boss Hughton big selection headache07/09/10 NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Titus Bramble proves his doubters wrong (for now) after summer move to Sunderland01/09/10 NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Newcastle brought back down with a bump17/08/10 NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Bruce and Hughton fear the window slamming11/08/10 NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Middlesbrough fans can get up close and personal with the players - how will they respond?03/08/10 Northern Exposure: Newcastle fans must be happier than Sunderland's27/07/10 Colin Young: A fully-fit Barton is great news for Newcastle... and England20/07/10 Colin Young: Bruce doesn't waste time as Sunderland kick off in Ireland13/07/10 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE   Still protesting his innocence over the caution for kicking the ball away, Cattermole vowed he had learned his lesson and would have to ensure he didn't give referees the ammunition to book him or send him off. And then he went back to Wigan. And within 22 minutes he was back in the changing room once again. The first booking looked a little harsh to me. I wasn't there - I was watching Newcastle being brought back down to earth by Blackpool of all teams, a side who finished 32 points behind them in the Championship last season - but the Match of the Day highlights showed he was booked very early on for a pretty soft challenge. Afterwards Bruce said he and his entire coaching staff were thinking 'don't go to ground Lee' when he was the last man chasing Huge Rodallega into the box on the counter attack following a Sunderland corner. More than 4,000 travelling Sunderland fans, desperate to see their side start performing on their travels to start justifying the costs of all these trips, were thinking exactly the same thing. Sadly, that's the player Lee Cattermole is at the moment. And that shouldn't be the case. A footballer who does not display the maturity and common sense, particularly after the month he has just had, to go easy when he is on a yellow card becomes a liability to himself and his team. So it proved, sadly. Cattermole misses two games now because he didn't have the nous to deal with Rodallega's pace sensibly and not put his participation in the game in jeopardy. Sunderland, who by all accounts had been outplayed at this stage, rallied with 10 men and were forced to change their system to accommodate the loss of their captain. They should be winning at places like Wigan, and nearly did, only to succumb to being a man down in the final minute. A harsh assessment is that Cattermole has cost his side four points against Birmingham and Wigan. It's a pretty fair one too. Long walk: Bruce is disappointed as Cattermole heads for an early bath at Wigan What makes Cattermole's discretion harder to understand, is that he was given the captain's armband by Bruce in the summer, a surprising choice perhaps, and certainly a brave one, although there were few other candidates in truth. He could have turned to centre-backs John Mensah (captain of Ghana), Michael Turner or Titus Bramble, but which two of the three will play regularly? And if one is your skipper isn't he the first name on your team-sheet? Mind you, if you could guarantee Mensah's fitness it would be a no-brainer. But that is one of the biggest ifs at Sunderland at the moment. Another one is if Cattermole should retain the captaincy after such idiocy in the space of three games (he came through the Manchester City game without a booking in a fairly bruising encounter). The feeling you get from most Sunderland supporters is that he should be stripped of the role and not just punished with a fine, however hefty that will be. Decision time: Black Cats manager Bruce Bruce handed him the armband because he believed his loyalty would be rewarded, and so far the player he did help mature so much at Wigan, has let his manager down, as well as himself of course. It will not be an easy decision for Bruce who will no doubt take note of opinion of the fans, but will be more concerned with the long-term welfare of Cattermole, a player who has the ability to become a major influence at Sunderland this season. If he can stay on the pitch and do what he should be doing best, that is. Taking away the captaincy could be counter-productive. Will it prove Bruce was wrong in the first place, and weak to pander to the public outcry? But if he keeps it, how many chances does he get? And how much more pressure will he be under to stay out of trouble, and what harm will that have on his game, and the competitive edge which actually makes him a very good footballer. The one thing about Cattermole is that he is honest and he just loves to get stuck in. He thrives on it and unlike his predecessor Lorik Cana, he can actually tackle. But as he proved at Wigan, he does get a little lost in the moment, to put it politely. He will know he has made a mistake - although no doubt still feel aggrieved at that first caution - and is the type of person who will want to rectify it with actions rather than words. He deserves a bit of leeway and more time to mature and hone his aggression as Sunderland's captain. If that happens he will have the (last) chance to prove his manager's judgement was right and that he can grow into the role. Although with that comes the added scrutiny of every challenge and the knowledge that anything slightly mistimed will be seized upon by Webb and his colleagues.  Wigan 1 Sunderland 1: Cattermole facing the chop after seeing red againWigan 1 Sunderland 1: Bruce on red alert as Cattermole is sent off againGyan was too tired to continue dancing after scoring 'perfect' goalSUNDERLAND FC


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