STEVE Bruce and Gus Poyet get on well and the former Sunderland boss will not mind if his replacement calls him this week asking: “How do you solve a problem like Lee?”
The combustible midfielder was sent off on Saturday for the sixth time in just 86 starts for the Black Cats – the eighth red card of the 25-year-old’s career.
And Bruce, while fully understanding the difficulty of handling Cattermole, can point to the example of ex-Black Cat Paul McShane in showing that progress can be made.
Reflecting on Cattermole’s latest dismissal for a challenge on former Black Cats team-mate Ahmed Elmohamady, Bruce commented: “I think everyone knows that I love Lee as a lad – but the directive in football is that if you leave the floor with your studs showing you’re always looking at a red.
“Lee’s a fine player, but the one thing Lee has got to curb is that red mist that comes down and he has to know you can’t make that sort of challenge in today’s football.
“You might have got away with it in my day, but not any more and the referee got that one right.”
McShane, Bruce suggested, is a similarly fiercely competitive character to Cattermole who has shown that anger issues can be controlled.
“We’ve worked hard on taking away his red mist,” Bruce said of a Hull player not booked in his four games this season and who went through the whole of last season picking up just one yellow.
“I’m pleased with that because he’s got that hunger and desire – he loves to tackle and supporters love that and see him as a bit of a cult hero – but now he manages to stay on the right side.”
As for the other red card in the game, Bruce was shocked and disgusted at Andrea Dossena’s cynical stamp on David Meyler – the ex-Sunderland player whose career has twice been put in jeopardy by serious knee injuries.
“It was a horror challenge on David and those are the ones that can end careers,” he said.
“Meyler doesn’t go down easily in a game, so, even from across the pitch, I knew it was a bad one.
“You should see the state of his shin, but thankfully he has got away with it.”