DICK ADVOCAAT has immediately binned Gus Poyet’s favoured holding midfield role for key figure Lee Cattermole.
Ex-boss Poyet brought the best out of Cattermole during his 17-month spell in charge of Sunderland, with the combative Teessider maturing in the defensive midfield slot, despite Liam Bridcutt arriving in a £2.5million deal to fill that slot.
However, Advocaat abandoned that sitting position for his opening game in charge at West Ham three weeks ago and then used Cattermole further up the pitch as an orthodox central midfielder when the 27-year-old returned from suspension for last weekend’s Wear-Tyne derby.
Advocaat believes that asking Cattermole to stay deep can leave Sunderland outnumbered in the middle of the park, if they come up against an opposition using a three-man central midfield.
Certainly, that strategy paid off against Newcastle, with Magpies skipper and pivotal player Moussa Sissoko, a bystander for Sunderland’s second home victory of 2015.
Advocaat said: “I knew what kind of player Cattermole was before I arrived.
“He likes to always play in the sitting role, but now I’ve told him that if they play differently, he has to move forward and play more, rather than staying as a free-man.
“Otherwise it becomes three against two.
“If they play three midfielders, we have to go three against three.
“Sissoko is a good player, but I did not see him last weekend.
“Cattermole had an important role in that.”
Cattermole was not alone among Sunderland’s midfielders in playing a pivotal role in a fifth win in a row against Newcastle, with Seb Larsson and Jordi Gomez also shining.
But Larsson will miss today’s visit of Crystal Palace, plus the trip to Stoke City in a fortnight, after collecting a 10th booking of the season in the derby and a subsequent two-match ban.
However, Jack Rodwell has made a timely return to fitness from the hamstring injury which kept him sidelined last weekend and is the obvious choice to take Larsson’s place, although Bridcutt and Adam Johnson are also in contention.
Advocaat added: “Seb is an all-round player. He can play on the right, in the middle.
“He’s very fit and can get around the pitch to give someone else some help.
“Somebody else has to do that now. But I’ve a good feeling about that.”