Most Sunderland mad fans will tell you, as a lover of all things red and white – not many compare to the affection for Lee Barry Cattermole. The heartbeat of our side, a leader of men and one of the few players in our squad who truly understands how important this team is to its city.
The 27 year old is about to enter the final 12 months of his contract, so the pressure is on Lee Congerton to negotiate a new long term deal for a man we cannot afford to lose when re-building this team.
Had Gus Poyet chose to cash in on Cattermole during the January window of 2014, the ramifications could have been severe to our Premier League status given the form he has shown from that point forward.
Despite a small number of fans giving him stick in terms of technical ability, when this bloke is out of the side there is a glaring difference in regards to our general attitude and combativeness as a collective. He actually doesn't get nearly enough credit for his distribution skills either, which is something which really came to prominence under Gus.
National Journalists and television pundits, who probably just watch one of our live games a season, still point to his disciplinary record and rashness in the tackle as clear limitations of the individual. This view is ridiculously short sighted, and anyone that actually watches Catts on a weekly basis will highlight how much he has improved in this area.
His last red card came in November 2013 against Hull, and although people will point to the 14 yellow cards received last season I’d actually argue that is a sign of a man doing his job. In the modern game where players hit the deck like they’ve been shot from row Z, I would be seriously worried if a combative defensive midfielder was picking up next to no yellows over the course of a season.
As Niall Quinn highlighted post five-in-a-row, the first things as fans of this club that we look for in our side is heart and passion. This man has that in abundance, and is someone we should look to build a team around for the foreseeable future. Watching him hassle and get amongst absolute posers like Remy Cabella, is almost as enjoyable as seeing the ball hit the back of the oppositions net.
Given where we currently sit in the Premier League hierarchy, it is absolutely essential to the development of this side that we keep hold of Lee Cattermole. Employing the appropriate creative and attacking players around him is the approach that must be taken to give us the right blend of battle and guile needed to be successful in this league.
Please god, get this man a new contract – and we can all get our orders in for an extra small pair of next seasons replica kit shorts.
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