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Roker Roundtable: Should Sunderland keep or sell/release Lee Cattermole this summer?

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Would you keep Lee Cattermole, or is now the time for him to leave Sunderland after ten years with the club?

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Lee Cattermole - rumours suggest that he’s likely to leave this season after ten years at the club, with his wages - believed to be in excess of £40,000 per week - deemed too expensive for our wage bill. Cattermole has proved his fitness this season, scoring goals and showing he’s capable at this level, but the cost of his weekly wage is difficult to ignore.


Q: What would you do - would you make an allowance to keep him around next season, or would you pay him off and hand him his registration so he can head off and find himself a new club?

Craig Davies says...

In the cause of full disclosure, I must admit I’m a big Cattermole admirer.

Perhaps one of those obsessives that have perpetuated the ‘Cult of Cattermole’ and cultivated a level of discipleship that perhaps neither his ability nor his influence have possibly quite deserved. But, I’m an old school supporter who appreciates the gritty hardness, the unattractive physicality and the dark arts of football that such players like Lee Barry Cattermole bring to a team.

They swim in the shadows but provide a back bone for most squads they play in. They usually have the respect of their peers and are often appreciated by their fans.

So perhaps, it’s with a heavy heart, that I believe it might be time to part company.

In the Play Off Final it seemed to me that Catts was just a few inches too late to everything. Not hugely noticeable in individual moments, but collectively those moments have a huge impact on overall performances and results.

Yes he’s had an excellent season, and his ardent worshippers, like me, can drool about his goals and his leadership, but in the cold light of day, can it not be argued that he’s looked so decent because he’s also found his level as a mid to top performer in League One?

Which is fine. That’s where we are. But as a consequence he must be paid more akin to a mid to top performer in League One by accepting a huge pay cut to stay.

This could be a happy compromise for me. I’d love him to stay - everyone from Leadbitter to O’Nien have spoken this season of how much they look to Lee for leadership and inspiration. The Boss rates him as a man and he’s popular amongst the fans.

But, it’s impossible to ignore that Cattermole’s weekly wage could help rebuild a squad. It’s ten times the average League One salary, which would be fair if he was ten times better than the average League One player. But as much as it pains me to admit it, he’s not.

If we could work something out with him, where he stays but on a reduced salary or with an option of also joining he coaching staff or academy, I’d be satisfied all day long. But if that’s not an option, no matter how much I admire him, we’d have to move on and cut the chord.

Capital One Cup Final Preview: Sunderland Training Session Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Damian Brown says...

I’ve never been Cattermoles biggest fan. There are rough edges to the man as a player and, I imagine, as a peer. There’s no denying his service to the club but I for one won’t miss him terribly.

Players like Cattermole wear their hearts on their sleeve, and that endears them to people. He’s a man with a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to the proportionate use of force on the pitch, coupled with a penchant for violence that comes straight out of post-war sports. In many ways for me he is the best and worst kind of player, because for all his redeeming qualities he has almost crippling drawbacks.

No one can say with a straight face that Cattermole has been a great player for us, but equally no one can deny that his supposed charisma has made him a mainstay over the years.

I’m glad that’s about to change. League One has been the perfect place for Cattermole to demonstrate those values he holds so close and he’s banged in a few goals to boot. But it’s also demonstrated that League One and hereabouts is very much his level, and I wonder: if we had realised that years ago how much better off might we have been?

He’s not the first example of Sunderland paying someone’s wages just to keep the status quo, though hopefully it will be the last.

Give him a payoff and and send him on his merry way - consign your O’Sheas and your Cattermoles to the history books and move on into the future wise enough not to commit huge wages to mediocrity in the years to come.

You could find the same work ethic and ability for a quarter of the price as it stands, so let’s do that and wish him all the best. I look forward to him crocking whatever promising young game-changer we put out when we inevitably face him on the pitch.

Charlton Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off Final Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

James Nickels says...

It’s a genuinely difficult situation. Financially we need to rebalance the wage structure at the club, and he - rightly or wrongly - will always be lumbered in with a group of players who are simply on far too much for this level.

We gave him the contract. What would he do, say no?

On the pitch last season he was one of our most consistent performers and scored some absolutely vital goals. Not to compare the two, but Romelu Lukaku when he was at Everton springs to mind. In his last season at Goodison they finished 7th and the Belgian plundered an excellent 25 goals in 37 games, but if you take away his goals - they’d still have finished 7th.

Catts’ goals last season amounted for 13 points for the Lads. Only his early header at Fleetwood away didn’t garner a single point for the team. In numerous other games he led the side with renewed vigour.

Despite coming under fire, he’s still part of the core of the side and leads on the pitch - despite no longer being captain by name.

Plus, I doubt anyone will even come in for him with his injury record, reputation and wages all taken into consideration.