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Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole might end season without red card

Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole patrols the centre of the pitch alone with fans in the background
Lee Cattermole, midfield dynamo, in action for Sunderland [Credit: vagueonthehow [CC])
A table containing Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole's disciplinary record throughout his careerSunderland’s midfield maestro Lee Cattermole is in danger of going a full season without a red card for the first time since 2007-08.

It should be of great concern for football fans everywhere – Cattermole’s stylish contributions have been a keystone of bottom-half top-flight English football for nearly a decade. Who knows what kind of football we’d see in the Premier League if this man were to find himself mellowing with age.

Cattermole’s first red card was for Wigan Athletic in September 2008, in a Premier League match against future employers Sunderland.

Prior to that, ‘The Cat’ had gone without seeing red for the first 94 games of his career at Middlesbrough and Wigan.

Gareth Southgate, former England centre-back, smiling, close-up
Gareth Southgate, former Middlesbrough manager

In those early days, poor Lee was dishing out reducer after reducer to no avail. Though the Teesside charmer picked up a healthy 27 bookings (one every 3.48 games), he couldn’t find that elusive first red card that would ignite his dream of being a plodding midfield ‘yappy-dog’.

It really is a mystery how Cattermole had such trouble accessing his inner anger in his early career at Boro. How did he fail to learn anything from the fearsome Steve McClaren and the tenacious Gareth Southgate, his first two managers?

Something inspired him, though. I can’t imagine what.

Boro’s James Morrison soon carried himself off to the home of beautiful football, West Bromwich Albion (a title only reiterated by the club’s appointment last year of one Tony Pulis as manager). But back to our midfield magician, Lee Cattermole.

Someone at Sunderland must intervene before it’s too late. As fans, we’ve all come to depend on Cattermole’s steady supply of bookings. He’s received a card in 34.1% of his senior club appearances, and that includes the many occasions that a petrified referee has given our Lee the benefit of any ‘doubt’.

Graph showing the accumulation of yellow cards over time by Lee Cattermole of Sunderland AFC

All may not be lost. Cattermole’s recent speight of bookings has brought him above his average accumulation rate (see chart, above) and suggests there’s life in the old Jack Russell terrier yet.

What’s more, Easter Sunday is derby day, when Cattermole’s Sunderland take on rivals Newcastle. The stage is set for the Lee of old to return – an elegant leap, a two-footed lunge, head-on collision, the clap of stud on kneecap… and all only ten minutes in. It’s got ‘red card’ written all over it.

Let’s all keep him in our thoughts. Lee Cattermole, one of the Premier League’s brightest stars.

Words: Sean Gibson

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