TO use a tired old cliché – football is a game of opinions.
Since time in memorial, there have been players who divide those opinions.
Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole certainly falls into that category.
Is the midfielder a help or hindrance to the Black Cats cause?
Love him or loathe him, Cattermole – and the dilemma his selection poses – is difficult to ignore.
When it comes to the midfielder it’s very much a case of weighing up the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The good: At his best, the skipper has proved to be a driving force for the red and whites.
When he was out injured the Wearsiders clearly missed his leadership in the middle of the park.
Cattermole cajoles, encourages, and demands that his team-mates take the game to the opposition, and that everyone shows commitment, and a desire to win.
The bad: In Saturday’s game against Arsenal, Cattermole was booked inside the first two minutes of the game kicking off.
It was a definite yellow, and an unnecessary one, but his card has most definitely been marked by referees.
Whether that’s fair or not, it is clearly something that the Sunderland captain is going to have to learn to live with.
On Saturday, after his yellow card, he was walking a disciplinary tightrope from a very early point, and it’s almost impossible to argue that by doing so, he reduced his effectiveness for the rest of the match.
Once he was booked every tackle was scrutinised, every niggle is a possible opportunity to give him his marching orders.
To his credit a second yellow didn’t follow, but the threat of one will undoubtedly have led to him holding back from his normal game.
The ugly: Cattermole has been sent off five times during his Sunderland career, that has meant that the Black Cats has missed his services on quite a few occasions through suspension, and they have had to play for varying amount of times with just 10 men on the field.
And the annoying thing is that so many of those red cards could have been avoided.
So back to the question: is Cattermole a help or hindrance?
For me the jury is still out on that one.
At the minute, I think the Black Cats miss his drive and leadership when he is not there.
However, his run ins with match officials are still happening far too regularly.
For now, boss Martin O’Neill is prepared to gamble on his skipper. Fans will be hoping it pays off.