Cattermole: Careless Berk Or Man Out Of Time?

Lee Cattermole is either a victim of progress - his neanderthal stylings belonging to a bygone era - or he's simply got a nasty streak. Either way, he's entirely predictable...

Last Updated: 09/11/12 at 14:21 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Brendan Rodgers: Radiohead Or The Happy Mondays

24 comments

Forget that 'difficult second album/season' thing, last year went extraordinarily well. But what about the third season, Brendan? What constitutes success for him now?

Andy Carroll: Will Sam Still Play With Woody?

8 comments

With his expensive blunderbuss back in action, will Sam Allardyce revert to the old ways? Will he still play with his Woody when he has a shiny Buzz Lightyear?

All Articles

In life, sometimes you know exactly what you're going to get, even before you've checked. Dropped your toast? You've a buttery floor. A cabinet minister has apologised? Enjoy the carefully constructed expression of vague regret that steps delicately around the messy business of actually accepting responsibility or admitting wrongdoing. Warned of incoming banter? Time to leave, or reach for your revolver. Whichever you prefer.

So when you hear that Lee Cattermole's been sent off, as he was last week against MK Dons in the Rolling Parade Of Sponsors With Eminently Forgettable Names, Apart From Milk, Rendering The Whole Exercise Rather Pointless Cup, let's just say that it wasn't any great surprise when the replay showed him flying in with his signature blend of tardy force.

The BBC's match reports for his seven (to date) dismissals are remarkable in their consistency. He's walked for, among sundry un-adjectivised fouls, a 'reckless challenge', a 'reckless lunge', a 'lunging challenge', a 'clumsy challenge', a pair of 'nasty-looking fouls', and 'clattering straight through [Lee Bowyer] without ceremony'; that last might recapture him a little sympathy. Auntie also records an 'unnecessary statement of intent [with his] right elbow' that didn't receive a card. Perhaps the only real exception is his dismissal against Newcastle, for foul and abusive language after the final whistle, though fortunately for his reputation he'd already been booked for an early, 'ugly tackle'.

Notable by their absence are the words 'unfortunate to receive', 'harsh decision', or 'perhaps unfairly', a trend that presumably holds for the majority of the other 64 bookings he's managed to accumulate so far. Sympathy, naturally, is scarce. Where one careless tackle can be let go as an accident, and two perhaps as a lack of maturity, a collection as wide-ranging and homogenous as this tends to encourage people to think that, however good a footballer he can be in amongst all the crunching, he's something of a hopeless case.

Part of Cattermole's problem is that, as a footballer, he cleaves to an archetype that's no longer tolerated. Being a midfield enforcer used to mean being part of a glorious and proud lineage of dark-eyed, moustachioed psychopaths, sharp of cleat and flared of nostril; now, it's a shameful business. It's a bit like one of those films where a mediaeval knight falls through a wormhole into 1980s New York, except our hero, instead of stumbling through a cavalcade of amusing misunderstandings - jousting with a wheelie bin, claiming Dunkin Donuts for the King - and winning the heart of an extremely attractive, patient young lady, is stood in Times Square, the severed head of a Frenchman at his feet, wondering why everybody's screaming and what all the blue lights mean.

But while the heydays of the reducer are gone - thankfully, if you're a shinbone, or a fan of shinbones - the memories still linger, edges filed off, nostalgia filter applied. Memories of a simpler time, when humiliation by skill could be answered with humiliation by strength, before FIFA and UEFA and the EU and the PC brigade ruined everything. This explains why pundits scrutinise replays for the faintest whisper of a touch of the ball, then announce "see, he's won the tackle" (or, if he hasn't, praise the 'honesty' of the attempt). This fuels the weird-yet-persistent rubric that kicking your opponent shows that you care, that you're committed. What kind of a world is this, cries the halcyon past, where an Englishman can't respond to excessive cleverness with excessive force?

It's these memories that do for players like Cattermole. Into the tackle they charge, head filled with the ghosts of midfields past, Norman Hunter growling in one ear, Graeme Souness chuckling in the other and then comes the leap, and the lunge, and then thump, it's done, the ball's over there somewhere and the other lad - the enemy - is down on the ground where he belongs. But then suddenly, shockingly, the drums fade away and the blood subsides and they're left blinking in the cold and embarrassing light of the present, a strange-looking bloke in a turquoise shirt is waving a red card in their face, everybody's shouting at one another, the crowd are howling, the commentators wringing their hands, and there's nothing to be done but go and sit in the shower, alone, and wait for all their friends and their boss to come and do some unrefined shouting.

What can one man do, against a hundred years of bruising, insistent tradition? Just as the poor sods writhing on the ground are Cattermole's victims, so Cattermole himself is a victim of progress, trapped between a sport that rejects him and a sporting culture that regrets that rejection and romanticises his predecessors. Perhaps. That, or he's a careless berk with a nasty streak. Whichever you prefer.

Andi Thomas

Andi also writes for SB Nation and The Score, and is on Twitter. He also contributed to the Surreal Football Magazine #1, which is out now, and available here.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

Y

ou are wrong Per, thats the right way the play. Its everyone elses' fault that it doesnt work.

delboy
Mertesacker urges style change

A

s it's panto season coming soon, let me be the first Oh yes you do

munchie
Rodgers: No defence coach

T

hat's it for me, that's ego talking and nothing more. Three seasons in and he still hasn't resolved the issues in defence. This won't end well, he doesn't have the skills needed to sort out the back four and isn't prepared to bring in those who do. This is the worst team I've seen since the late days of Houllier. Brendan...you're fired.

rodger's gusset
Rodgers: No defence coach

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Arsenal injury concerns deepen as Laurent Koscielny ruled out indefinitely

Arsene Wenger has ruled out key Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny for another four weeks - at least.

Premier League: Per Mertesacker urges Arsenal style change

Per Mertesacker has called on Arsenal to try something other than 'one-twos through the middle'.

Rodgers: No defence coach needed at Liverpool

Brendan Rodgers insists that Liverpool do not need a defensive coach despite shipping 19 goals in all competitions this season.

Mail Box

Does David De Gea Need Competition?

It would certainly be a good idea to give Victor Valdes a contract, while we have more mails on Brendan Rodgers, Arsene Wenger, the rabona and mailbox gripes...

Dropping Jack And Pity For Poor Alexis...

We have lots more mails about Liverpool (is Brendan the naked emperor?) and Arsenal. One reader feels sorry for Alexis Sanchez while one wants Wilshere dropped...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property