Does Lee Cattermole's unwanted record show a lack of discipline at Sunderland?

Lee Cattermole

The 27-year-old midfielder has equalled the record for the most bookings in a Premier League season (14), but is there a disciplinary issue at Sunderland?

Cattermole has had a difficult time at Sunderland over the last two seasons, losing the captaincy to John O'Shea, and the yellow card picked up in Saturday's 0-0 draw with Leicester means he has equalled the record for the most bookings in a Barclays Premier League season, with 14.

Only Mark Hughes, Robbie Savage and Cheick Tiote have walked the disciplinary tightrope as often as Cattermole in the past, and the former Middlesbrough and Wigan midfielder is certainly in the company of some of the game's most renowned hard men.

But do the 14 bookings for Cattermole tell a story of ill-discipline at Sunderland? 

As the Black Cats enter the last week of the season still in the midst of a relegation battle, fans may point to some reckless challenges and needless suspensions as being contributory factors to a campaign that sees them sat just three points above the bottom three. 

  PositionTeamRed CardYellow CardFoulsPenalty ConcededAppearancesMins Played
Liam Bridcutt MF Sunderland 1 6 21 0 18 907
Wes Brown DF Sunderland 1 5 16 1 25 1,993
William Buckley MF Sunderland 0 2 11 0 21 853
Lee Cattermole MF Sunderland 0 14 51 0 27 2,268
Jermain Defoe FW Sunderland 0 1 8 0 15 1,277
Steven Fletcher FW Sunderland 0 4 23 0 28 1,648
Adam Johnson MF Sunderland 0 2 13 0 30 1,932
Billy Jones DF Sunderland 0 7 19 0 12 1,075
Jordi Gómez MF Sunderland 0 7 35 0 29 1,941
Sebastian Larsson MF Sunderland 0 10 49 0 34 2,880
John O'Shea DF Sunderland 0 4 27 0 35 3,091
Jack Rodwell MF Sunderland 0 4 22 0 21 1,351
Santiago Vergini DF Sunderland 0 6 17 0 31 2,623
Connor Wickham FW Sunderland 0 8 57 1 34 2,638
Patrick van Aanholt DF Sunderland 0 4 21 0 26 2,126
Ricardo Álvarez MF Sunderland 0 3 5 0 13 494

In terms of red cards, Sunderland have a decent record, with only aberrations by Liam Bridcutt and Wes Brown leaving the Wearsiders a man short during a game.

Likewise, only two penalties conceded, by Connor Wickham and again Wes Brown, doesn't suggest this is where Sunderland have been punished in a campaign that has always seen them in and around the bottom three.

Where Sunderland have suffered is in the number of yellow cards they have received. In addition to Cattermole's 14, Sebastian Larsson with 10 and Connor Wickham with eight are particularly notable.

Other standout statistics are the seven yellow cards picked up by defender Billy Jones in just 12 appearances, and the number of fouls conceded by a series of players.

Wickham tops the table with a whopping 57 fouls, perhaps proving the adage that forwards cannot tackle, with Cattermole closely behind on 51. Elsewhere, Larsson, again, with 49 and Jordi Gomez with 35 need to brush up on their tackling technique.

So it seems, Lee Cattermole's record tally of bookings is not necessarily symptomatic of a lack of discipline in the Sunderland side, but manager Dick Advocaat - and his predecessor Gus Poyet - could quite easily point to a frustration with easy free-kicks being given away, which concede possession and invite pressure on a fragile defence.

As Sunderland enter a final week featuring two of their toughest away trips of the season - to Arsenal this Wednesday and Chelsea next Sunday - it is certain that they need to maintain their discipline at this crucial stage.

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