Thursday, June 8, 2023

Can Lee Cattermole make it to the very top?

Graham Fisher in Editorial, English Premier League 20 Apr 2011


A far too familiar sight

Last season the name of Lee Cattermole was being linked with a place in the full England squad. The twenty-three year old Sunderland midfielder has represented England at under 16, 17, 18, 19 and 21, earning sixteen caps for the oldest age group and scoring three goals.


Cattermole is a whole hearted, passionate and emotional player and came to prominence when as an eighteen year old at Middlesbrough he was seen on television to be in tears after a 4-0 home defeat to Aston Villa. At a very young age he was made captain of Middlesbrough. There were some question marks about his temperament as he managed to pick up a remarkable twenty-six yellow cards in those ninety-one games, but in fairness to him, he never saw red. After a total of ninety-one games for the club he earned himself a £3.5 million move to Wigan.

He stayed just one season at Wigan, playing just thirty-five games for the club. He could have played more because in that time, his lack of discipline looked like becoming a major issue as he picked up ten yellow cards and found himself sent-off twice.


His ability on the field was still out weighing his disciplinary issues however, and he moved on to Sunderland for £6 million, to join up again with his old Wigan boss Steve Bruce.

In his first season with the club he was troubled by injury and suspension again. He played twenty-two games, picking up seven yellows and one red. He became popular with the Sunderland faithful because they appreciated his will to win and his total commitment to the cause.

In a move that raised eyebrows everywhere, prior to the start of this season, Steve Bruce handed Cattermole to captain’s armband. Unfortunately, and somewhat predictably, Cattermole received a red card in the first game of the season. Since then, he has played another twenty-one games and added another eight yellows and one red.


Has Cattermole become a marked man by referees or is he just a reckless tackler? Cattermole himself seems to believe that both of those things might be true.

“I have got a reputation, it will stick and it’s up to me to get rid of it. I believe I play the game in the right way, I never milk anything if someone leaves a bit in on me, it comes with the game. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve made silly challenges in the past but I’ve got to get it out of my system.”

Cattermole knows that it would have been easy for Bruce to relieve him of the captaincy and is determined to repay his manager’s faith.


“We’ve had long chats about it because it did hurt me at the start of the season, I took such a backward step. I know the position I was in at the start of the season, how I felt and it was lonely times for me, I’d just been given the armband and everyone in the country said I was going to lose it after three games. It’s something I was relishing and maybe it did get the better of me at the start of the season. I want to take the club forward, the gaffer gave me the armband, I taken on the responsibility and it’s something I am enjoying.”

It is a shame that injury and disciplinary issues have temporarily put Cattermole’s career on hold. He is still a fine player but has seen young team-mate Jordan Henderson get a full England call up before him.

I really hope that Cattermole can put his trouble with referees behind him because he is an excellent hard tackling player in the mould that allows other, more creative, players do their thing. If he can sort himself out there is no reason why he can’t play a holding role for England in the future.

It really is in his own hands.


Graham Fisher



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