DICK ADVOCAAT has hailed Lee Cattermole’s impact on the whole of the Sunderland team.
Statistics were released by the Premier League earlier this week which reinforced the crucial role which midfielder Cattermole plays for this Sunderland side.
Sunderland have averaged 1.13 points per game, compared to 1.23 last season, when Cattermole has been in the starting XI, with that figure plummeting to 0.63 this season and 0.7 last year, when the Teessider has been absent.
Head coach Advocaat has only been at the Sunderland helm for less than two months, but has already noted Cattermole’s contribution, particularly in last weekend’s crucial victory over Southampton.
“I think his contribution to the team last week was brilliant – the way he played, the way he worked, the way he went for the tackles for the two goals,” said Advocaat.
“That’s what you need.
“I think Lee played excellent, but he’s also important for the other players.
“He really was the man with the fire.
“The other players see they have to do it as well.
“The team are not afraid to say something if someone is not doing what he has to do.”
While Cattermole – who will face a three-game suspension if he collects two more yellow cards before the end of the season – has always demonstrated competitive spirit, Advocaat inevitably has to deal with players of a different temperament.
Yet one of those, Connor Wickham, has returned to form under Advocaat, with the forward thriving under the ex-Holland manager’s 4-3-3 system.
However, Advocaat believes that Wickham could still learn from Cattermole’s example of pushing himself to reach his full potential.
“Connor is a different person, you have to push him a bit more,” he said.
“He has to learn that a little bit from Lee.
“Of course he’s still talented, but at this level, you have to give 100 per cent to get a goal.
“I think Lee has more experience of that than Connor.
“But in the future, Connor can be an important player.”