Rowell Report: Cattermole absence proving pivotal for Sunderland

Gary Rowell
Gary Rowell
4
Have your say

SUNDERLAND’S season sunk to a new low when Bradford City deservedly knocked them out of the FA Cup on Sunday.

I’m not taking anything away from Bradford, but when a team from the third tier of English football can out-play and out-fight a Premier League side, then there are serious problems.

Yet again we started the game badly (something that’s becoming all too familiar) and because of it, more often than not, Sunderland have to play catch-up.

Bradford just like QPR in our previous game looked as if they wanted it more than we did and that’s always a sign of a team with very little confidence and morale.

Yes, Sunderland should have been awarded a penalty and if that was given, the whole game could have been different, but over the 90 minutes, it was clear that they were second best and got what they deserved.

This was a real old-fashioned FA Cup tie, with an electric atmosphere and a dodgy playing surface, but I’ve seen worse pitches and it can’t be used as an excuse for the performance.

Lee Cattermole was a huge miss, especially in this sort of game, and the sooner he’s back the better, as without him Sunderland lack drive and desire.

Cattermole is the one who sets the tone and example for the others to follow, and we don’t seem to have anyone else to do that job when he’s not there.

Over the course of the game, Sunderland used three strikers, all with hefty transfer fees to their name, but it was a Sunderland reject Jon Stead who was the best forward on the pitch and it was no surprise when he scored the killer second goal, although Vito Mannone wasn’t blameless.

Things couldn’t have gone much worse for Sunderland on Sunday, as it was the type of result and performance that flattens everybody and can have a negative effect on the rest of the season.

Gus Poyet had a post-match press conference which was as uncomfortable as he’s faced in his time at Sunderland, and he now has a massive job on his hands to lift belief with a group of players that are down.

But it can get a whole lot worse if things aren’t turned around quickly.