Sunderland skipper Cattermole still on learning curve – Gary Rowell

Lee Cattermole

Lee Cattermole

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I’M an admirer of Lee Cattermole and when others around him might struggle for motivation and focus, he never does.

He plays every game with an intensity and desire which is great to see.

He’s the sort of player who, at his best, takes a game by the scruff of the neck and drives his team on.

But Fulham was not a great game for him and he has to learn from it because it highlights what can let him down.

His foul to concede the free-kick from which Fulham scored their opener was just a body smash which left the referee no choice but to award the resulting free-kick.

There was no finesse or attempt to play the ball, it was just a crude push.

The skipper could count himself unlucky that Sunderland had free-kicks from similar positions and didn’t score – it was sod’s law Fulham should score from his challenge.

But it reminded us of how important it is not to give cheap free-kicks away around the penalty area these days and the captain has to learn that he doesn’t have to win every single challenge he goes into.

Sometimes it’s just enough to close people down or usher them away.

He also had a part to play in the concession of the second goal when he was rolled too easily at a time when a firm challenge was actually called for.

I think he’ll agree it wasn’t his best game.

But you can always learn by your mistakes and if I was Lee I would get a DVD out of the game against Newcastle at the Sports Direct when he picked up a first-minute booking but then went on to have a fantastic game full of controlled aggression and well-timed challenges.

That was Cattermole at his best and that’s the way he has to learn to play regularly if we are to see the best of him.

READ the full Gary Rowell column in Tuesday’s Echo