Former Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole was the latest guest on the Roker Rapport Podcast, in association with VAUX Brewery, as he joined us to discuss his career at the club.
Cattermole has since departed for VVV-Venlo in the Dutch Eredivisie but during the podcast, the 31-year-old revealed that he could have left Wearside during the Paolo Di Canio-era, with the Italian freezing the midfielder out of the squad.
No move away from the club materialised but Cattermole said that he had no contact at all with Di Canio during his spell at Sunderland and despite being a popular and exciting appointment initially with supporters, that particular managerial change did not receive the same excitement on the training ground:
It’s a funny one for me because everyone wants to ask me about it but I honestly didn’t have any sort of relationship or contact with the manager, so I really can’t comment on that.
I did get some things off the guys at the time. Some lads were enjoying what he brought at the start, enjoyed a bit of the pre-season.
I had a knee injury when he came in and never went back for pre-season, he had a meeting and just said ‘look, pre-season is a time where we all need each other to get fit. First and foremost for yourself and the team but there’s obviously different players who are going to move on and some players will stay that’s just totally normal at that time of year’.
So I was sat there at the back with a knee injury thinking ‘perfect’ as I had probably tried to play for six weeks with a medial [collateral ligament injury] for Martin, had a couple of injections and it just wasn’t going away and I had to have an operation. So I was sat there the first day of pre-season thinking ‘right, perfect, that’ll do me, I’ll get myself right’.
I was in over the summer and I thought I had a great chance to show the new manager what I can do type of thing and why I have been a player here for a few years.
Then left the meeting and got pulled by the physio who said ‘have you spoke to the manager?’ and I was like ‘yeah, yeah, just had a meeting’ and he said ‘you’re not allowed to train with them’ and I was like ‘alright’.
That was the only contact we had really, I wasn’t allowed to train with the team and just went and did some bits on my own. Obviously there was a couple of options, I could have maybe got out or went on loan and things like this but for one reason or the other it didn’t get sorted.
That was a time where I look back on my career and think I really worked hard at that time, I didn’t get too disheartened and made sure just to wait for your chance because it will come. Whether it was going to be at Sunderland or somewhere else, I had to make sure I looked after myself.
That was a funny time in my career, I was having Monday to Friday working and having weekends off and it was just a strange one.
I don’t think that stuff happens now anymore but it was quite popular back in the day, that things would happen where managers just didn’t fancy players and you had to take a back seat, which was normal. Whether it was personal or not, I don’t know because I didn’t have a relationship with him but after 7 or 8 games, we haven’t won a game and I think the [transfer] window shut and I had to go back into the squad.
I don’t really know what had happened to be honest but look, it wasn’t a successful period for us but I think everyone was pretty excited by that appointment and from the outside it seemed to go down really well with the fans and he was obviously a big character and quite flamboyant or whatever and it was all really exciting everywhere but probably the training ground, so it was a bit of a funny one.
I honestly can’t really comment on that other than my own experience, which was very little.