LEE Cattermole acknowledge his disciplinary record has made him a marked man as far as officials are concerned but claims he has made only one genuinely bad tackle in his career.
The Sunderland skipper was defending his all-out combative style of play which he insists is within the rules of the game but which is frequently misinterpreted by referees as being the wrong side of the line.
And while he admits that the aggressive way he plays the game is not helping his cause either, he has pleaded for recognition that he is not a ‘dirty player’.
“I feel like referees are out there for me at the minute,” he said.
“Maybe it’s my stupid mistakes in the past that have got me that reputation, but I have to get rid of it because I find myself getting a succession of soft yellow cards.
“It affects your game.
“It’s something I have to address but if you put every foul I’ve ever made up on television, there’d only be one tackle which was actually a bad one.
“That was on Scott Parker when I was playing for Wigan and I’ve spoken to him since to apologise for it.
“That’s the only bad tackle I’ve made in my career – all the rest have been genuine attempts to win the ball.
“You see some tackles and you wonder.
“Look at Vincent Kompany on Tim Cahill the other day – he just went straight over the ball into someone’s shin.
“I’ve never done that in my life.
“I’m not a dirty player, I’m just an honest player.”
Cattermole knows he could do with a period of staying out of trouble, but he worries that as well as the officials, he might have to contend with opponents too trying to make the most of his tackles.
The skipper was substituted in his last game against after a couple of incidents with Steven Reid – manager Steve Bruce fearing his captain might get sent off – and Cattermole left the pitch fuming because he felt he was playing well at the time. “To be honest, it’s the second time it’s happened with the lad Steven Reid from West Brom,” said the 23-year-old.
“He’s six-foot four and he rolls around like a girl, simple as that. It’s twice it’s happened now and it’s a shame.
“People whinge about the foreigners, but he’s a British lad and he’s acting like that.
“I was booked for that challenge and then the second one was on him again.
“I didn’t touch him, he kicked the ball and then he jumped in the air.
“He thought about rolling around again then but he got up and the referee saw that.
“The gaffer took me off and I was gutted because I felt as though I was really coming into the game.
“We were dominating the match and I felt we were going to go on to win.
“The gaffer gave me his reasons afterwards and it was understandable. The way things had gone, I think the referee was waiting for me to make a foul.
“But somehow I’ve got to change the way they see me at the moment because I’m not a dirty player.”