Cattermole keeps captaincy
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill insists that Lee Cattermole will retain the captaincy of the club following his red card at Newcastle.
By Graeme Bailey - Tweet me: @skygraemebailey
Last Updated: 09/03/12 3:01pm
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill insists that Lee Cattermole will retain the captaincy of the club following his red card at Newcastle last weekend.
After being booked in the first minute of the North East derby at St James' Park, Cattermole managed to survive the rest of the game without seeing red as he helped Sunderland to a 1-1 draw.
However, in the aftermath of the final whistle, Cattermole was handed a red card for his protests to referee Mike Dean.
Cattermole is now serving a four-match suspension, but O'Neill insists that he will not be handing the armband over.
Asked if he had considered removing Cattermole from the position as captain, he said: "No, absolutely not, no.
"I was asked a few weeks ago if I thought I had cured him, and I'm afraid I stared into the abyss on that one.
"Listen, on a serious note, it was obviously very disappointing for me to go into the dressing room and see a rather dejected-looking Stephane Sessegnon, to be followed by the news that the captain had been sent off.
"I thought I must have missed the last five minutes, but he was sent off at the end of the game.
"He has been absolutely fantastic, really fantastic when he has played for us. The West Bromwich Albion game apart, he has been really terrific.
"I am told he has taken on the role of the captaincy and does a lot of things here that I wasn't aware of, really good things around the football club like getting players to particular functions.
"It's very disappointing and he will have to try to learn from that because they are major games he is missing at a very, very important stage of the season. There's no getting away from that."
However, while O'Neill has not excused Cattermole's actions at the end of an intensely fierce derby, he is hoping Dean's actions are repeated by his refereeing colleagues if similar circumstances arise during the remainder of the season.
"I thought that overall, Mike Dean refereed the game very well," he said.
"Of course, he missed a few incidents in the match that from our viewpoint would have been big points, but overall, he did it.
"He perhaps could have had a look at the end, realising the tension had built up and this was a kind of explosion at the end and just said, 'Lee, go home and forget about it, son' or something like that.
"But obviously, he has chosen not to ignore what Lee has said and given the red card.
"Now, that's fine, that's okay. I just hope the next time we see somebody full in a referee's face in the Premier League that the referee has the courage to go and say, 'Right son, off you go'."
O'Neill added with a smile: "I know this will come back to bite me because it will be one of my players."