LEE CATTERMOLE does not begrudge Sunderland supporters for targeting him during the final days of Steve Bruce’s reign.
But the captain believes his Black Cats career has been reignited by the arrival of Bruce’s successor Martin O’Neill, as the 23-year-old prepares to lock horns with former club Wigan tonight.
Cattermole has thrived in his three games under O’Neill after returning to the side at QPR last month, capped with an immense display in Sunday’s victory over league leaders Manchester City.
Things were not so rosy under Bruce though with opinion split on the ex-Middlesbrough midfielder’s contribution to the side.
But O’Neill has kept faith with Cattermole, despite being arrested for an alleged incident of criminal damage last month and the former England U21 international has responded.
Cattermole said: “Under Brucie it became hard for me. People started to look at me as Brucie’s Boy.
“The fans got on his back and then they started to get on my back a little bit as well because I was his captain.
“Rightly so in many respects because if the team is not performing then I should be right at the front of the queue to get a bit of stick.
“I would have to admit we were under-performing, but I think things have changed a little bit now.
“I have had three good games on the bounce and I am more than confident in my own game
“I have really clicked with him (O’Neill) since he came here. I had a bit of bother at the start and he has kept me as captain and I think the performances have paid him back.
“I think the new manager has given everyone a real confidence. He keeps telling everyone how good they are and he has got everyone in good spirits. Everyone is working hard.
“A new manager would always give you a lift in situations like we were in but maybe not as well as it has gone under this manager.”
Sunderland have taken 10 points from O’Neill’s five games in charge and could move into the top half with victory at the DW Stadium tonight.
“It is natural for every player to want to impress a new manager and I think that shows,” added Cattermole.
“Training standards have gone up. He is very intelligent and he has a massive passion.
“It has shown on the pitch. All the lads are putting in a full shift until the end of the game.
“We are getting the results we deserve. At the start of the season I think we were playing quite well, we dominated a lot of games, but just missed chances.
“The gaffer has brought a great belief and confidence to the team.
“Every game we go in to now we believe we can take three points from them, even against Manchester City.
“Now we go to Wigan and there will be no point in beating City if we then go to Wigan and lose. We have to give it everything we have got.
“Hopefully we will have a couple of lads back but it will be a tough 48 hours.
“I would love to go Wigan and win. They are a good club and they were great for me.”