Lee Cattermole

Lee Cattermole
Image from: provenquality.com

Sunderland's captain and defensive midfield lynchpin Lee Cattermole has been the subject of much criticism from the media in recent years. Most of the criticism centres around his rash challenges, which is understandable for a player who has managed to rack up 92 yellow cards and 8 red cards in his career to date.

It is hard to argue with that criticism and is really a part of his game that needs work on, as the suspensions that he attracts have meant that he has only twice in his career managed to get over 30 appearances in a season. No matter how good a player you are, you can only make a difference if you are on the pitch!

Despite the criticism for that and a perceived lack of skill, Cattermole is important enough to Sunderland for Gus Poyet to say this about him:

Lee Cattermole is not in the team to score and create, he is there for one job and one job only, to break up opposition attacks, though it did not stop one flash of skill from him while a Wigan Athletic player:

He is extremely aggressive in his role, but he has to be as he is not physically imposing at all. To look at him, he is not at all scary, he is quite short and lacks pace, without the fear factor of his rash tackles there is little doubt players would just run at him all game long.

So his rashness is a weakness but he is using it to lessen the effect of his physical weaknesses. At Middlesbrough he broke through as a driving box to box midfielder, but his passing was not quite at the top level needed when you get in and around the box, so he has graduated to protecting the Mackem's defence and playing it simple.

In that role he is a very good player, not world class, but certainly good enough to deserve his place in the Premier League. Unfortunately his rashness does affect his reading of the game, as he can allow himself to get dragged out of position in a wild chase for the ball, when a cool head would have realised he needed to just hold position and let the opponent drop back.

All that hard running and effort though has won him a special place in the fans' hearts at Sunderland though:

Very like Cattermole, the chant is workmanlike but not exactly quality!

When he keeps his head, he can be a good shield to the defence, as his reading of the game has improved in recent years and his passing is good enough to keep it moving quickly. He is always willing to move himself into a place where he can be an option for a pass when needed.

Cattermole is a player who likes to keep it simple, to give it and go and then give it again, always recycling possession in the way modern coaches so love. It is a shame that the driving runs into the box have been coached out of his game, as it has meant that he very rarely gets into a position to shoot, let alone score as many as he should. He does have a good hit on him too, not that it is seen very often.

In summary, Cattermole is a decent Premier League defensive midfielder who works extremely hard to protect his team mates but lacks the quality and physical attributes to be any more than that.