Player Of The Last Ten Years Poll, Round One: Steed Malbranque Vs Lee Cattermole

Ross Kinnaird

Two midfielders at very opposite ends of the playing style stakes, if that even is a thing, go head to head today as Steed Malbranque takes on Lee Cattermole in a battle for supremacy, or at least the next round of the tournament anyway...

Steed Malbranque

Okay, seriously, why are we even here discussing this?

I mean, I like a decent little midfield rattler as much as the next guy, and Lee Cattermole is perfectly adequate at it. But that term, 'adequate', perfectly sums up Cattermole, where as it would be an insult to describe Steed Malbranque as such.

Few players have entertained Sunderland fans with as much flair and natural ability as Malbranque. He spent three years here weaving his magic, putting defenders on their backsides, and generally looking as cool as an overturned pillow.

He was rarely injured, always consistent, genuinely blessed with a rich footballing talent, and never an ounce of trouble. Basically, all the things that Lee Cattermole is not.

That's all I really have to say on the matter here. Like a top club facing a minnow in the early round of the cup, I am mindful of wasting too much effort against such meager opposition. Let's just get Steed through this one because make no mistake about it - he is a genuine contender to win this competition.

Lee Cattermole

Rarely has a captain divided a fanbase quite so much as Lee Cattermole. Leader and warrior of men to some; moron and liability to others. Since signing from Wigan Athletic in 2009 Cattermole has endured more swings in public confidence than the average Prime Minister; to the point where, even now, plenty of Sunderland fans cannot decide whether or not he is an asset on Wearside.

At his worst, Cattermole can be an almost loathsome presence in a red and white shirt. Yet, at his best, Cattermole can be very good indeed. Focused and intense, he has proven himself to comfortably be Sunderland's best back four shield in the past decade (and beyond). Able to time interceptions much more confidently than many give him credit for, Cattermole has frequently helped the side flourish going forward by providing a steady defensive anchor in the deep of midfield.

is three standout performances all came in those heady three months at the start of the Martin O'Neill reign. Manchester City, Newcastle United, then Manchester City again all found themselves grabbed by the throat by Cattermole and wrung into shape. It is typical of his divisive nature that he tarnished his performance in the Tyne-Wear derby with a ludicrous late sending off.

Going forward, Cattermole leaves little to be desired. But, in a decade where Sunderland have all too frequently dispensed with the hindrance that is defending, his no-nonsense approach has been something of a guilty pleasure. (CW)

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Be sure to make your vote count and send one of these two through to the next round. Make your voice heard below, because you only have until 11pm (GMT) tonight to get your vote in...

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