Lee Cattermole – Sunderland’s talisman or their main liability?

The combative midfielder has shown both his best and worst over the last week, and leaves Gus Poyet with a decision to make over his role in the side.

It has been a whirlwind seven days for Lee Cattermole, whose personal plight over the week characterises Sunderland at the moment.

The battling midfielder failed to see eye-to-eye with former boss Paolo Di Canio, and as a result had to watch on predominantly from the sidelines as his side slumped to 20th in the Premier League.

It is believed that Cattermole’s altercation with the Italian boss was a key reason for Di Canio’s dismissal, with the outspoken hard man the figurehead of discontent amongst Sunderland players.

With new boss Gus Poyet bringing the midfield general back into contention, it looked like a masterstroke by the Uruguayan boss.

Sunderland recorded their first victory of the new campaign against bitter rivals Newcastle last weekend, with the hard-working midfielder putting in an influential shift in front of his back four.

The battle between Cattermole and opposing enforcer Cheick Tiote was much anticipated, but failed to materialise as both were clearly implored by their respective managers to keep their emotions in check in the derby encounter.

Cattermole’s poise on the ball, positioning and stature were key components in the Black Cats’ win and the stage was seemingly set for the home-grown hero to play a significant role in Sunderland’s battle to get out of trouble.

Fast forward six days and the drawback of playing Cattermole becomes all too evident. Along with Andrea Dossena, the midfielder was sent off in a 1-0 defeat to Hull, with the faith that Poyet has shown in him becoming questioned.

Almost every team has a midfielder with the responsibility of breaking up opposition attacks and putting their stamp on the game. Cattermole, when he is on form and his head is in the right place, can be a dominant and rounded enforcer. With the amount of foreign players in the Stadium of Light squad, an English leader in the heart of the side such as this should be a positive factor for the struggling Wearside outfit.

However, the player’s rashness and seeming inability to curtail his hotheadedness have played their part in Sunderland losing against Hull. He is now suspended and Poyet will question the merits of bringing him back into the fold when he is available again.

For a team bottom of the league, the last thing you need is a player getting sent off, and playing Cattermole has considerable risk attached to it.

Sunderland’s start this term is worse than the one they made back in 2005-06, when they were relegated with a measly 15 points.

With only four points on the board so far, Poyet has quite the job on his hands to avoid a similar fate. What role Cattermole will play in the monumental task is a key question that the manager must answer.

image: © vagueonthehow

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