Wise Men Say: Trust Lee Cattermole to rise to the occasion

Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole tracks Norwich sub Nathan Redmond. Picture by Frank Reid
Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole tracks Norwich sub Nathan Redmond. Picture by Frank Reid
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It will be of little consolation to Norwich fans, but we’ve all sensed that a game was long overdue in which we’d have everything fall into place.

And by that, I don’t mean so-called dubious refereeing decisions, although remembering being on the wrong end of Andre Marriner’s incompetence on more than one occasion, I won’t begrudge Norwich fans the right to moan about some of them.

The Jan Kirchhoff tackle for the second goal was, shall we say, clumsy, but, at the risk of sounding like I’m trying to participate in some sort of petty point-scoring exercise, the missed handball in the lead up to Norwich’s winning goal against Newcastle the other week dicates that any sympathy on that front should be minimal; that missed decision was certainly far more influential to the relegation picture.

Andre Wisdom’s shin-raker could’ve been a red card if it was on the halfway line, so the fact that Borini wasn’t in a goalscoring position is irrelevant, as is the fact that Wisdom skimmed the top of the ball first.

The decision of the Norwich players to then react to the penalty decision by throwing themselves to the ground every time they were tackled in the box, was to their own detriment and if the collective decision-making of the Canaries continues to be controlled by emotions brought on by self-pity then it can only help us.

But it was more about what we did anyway.

We took (some of) our chances, we avoided sitting far too deep when ahead, our defender’s sliced clearance didn’t end up in the back of our own net for a change and we got our first penalty in absolutely ages.

But what was the most pleasing was the collective character shown by the lads, doubtlessly prevalent because of certain players having been in this situation before.

We speak often about the splash of quality added to this side in January, and it’s true that we’d likely be down with Villa by now if it wasn’t for the Special K effect – the introduction of Kone, Kirchhoff and Khazri.

But Lee Cattermole, Vito Mannone and Fabio Borini have been here before and have successfully come out the other side smiling.

All three were excellent on Saturday.

Even Defoe and van Aanholt were around this time last year when we took seven points from our final four games just as all hope looked lost.

A few weeks ago, the decision to drop Catts from the side wasn’t berated from the stands as it may have been in recent campaigns, even when it came to the small matter of the North East derby.

That’s an indication that, finally, the right players are being signed.

But not only did he cope with the magnitude of Saturday’s lose-under-no-circumstances game, he excelled in it; he seemed to actually enjoy it.

Should the time ever come where you feel the collective quality of this squad has advanced passed someone like Lee Cattermole, Saturday was proof that you keep him frozen in a time capsule or something for when the chips are really down and you are staring into the abyss.

Talk of progression is for another day, however. Let’s not forget that we’re still in the relegation zone.

But the fact we have these characters in our ranks is very reassuring when you think it adds to the fact this is the best-looking side on the field we’ve had in recent seasons.

Wahbi Khazri, for example, has added a touch of class to our starting XI yet struggled with the occasion on Saturday.

His time will come again for Sunderland, I’m sure of it.

But facing a game at Carrow Road knowing a defeat practically condemns you to the drop, well that’s a game for Lee Cattermole is that.

* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes