Following a lot of public criticism of one of our players by followers of The Black Cats, Malcolm Dawson appeals to lovers of social media to consider the effect their negativity might have on the season’s prospects.

Like most football followers I use the internet to find out what is happening with my club, especially with regard to transfers, injuries etc. There is no doubt that the internet is a great way to do this but it can also lead to laziness, sloppy reporting and outright plagiarism.

A few years ago I read an article which I recognised as one that M Salut had written and published on this website. But not only had the contributer not contacted Colin for permission to use it, he had not even credited him as author. It was a pure copy and paste job to which this particular blogger had added his own name. I contacted Colin who got in touch with the website and I have never seen a repeat but trawling various headlines for information and coming up with the same re-hashed material is commonplace these days. I doubt whether the veracity of the original report is ever checked and then suddenly Tino Asprilla has become a Darlington player or Martin O’Neil has become the manager of Shepshed Charterhouse. Oh hang on a sec those things did actually happen but you get my drift!

The comedien Dave Gorman in his programme “Modern Life is Goodish” looks at modern technology and how it affects people’s behaviours. For one episode he placed a card in a newsagent’s window pretending to be an elderly lady who liked jigsaws but didn’t like doing them, offering £50 for someone to do the puzzle for her. This was picked up by one of the local Free newspapers which contacted him and ran a story about it. This in turn was picked up by a national daily which ran the story and it ended up on the internet. To cut a long story short, just like Chinese whispers the point of the original story was lost, it was reported as factual in places as far away as New York and then eventually was referenced by Victoria Coren Mitchell in an episode of “Have I Got News For You”.

More than twenty years ago when primary school classrooms were being equipped with PCs and internet we stressed that children should always double check facts from more than one source and that just because you see something on the web doesn’t make it true but how many people these days get their “facts” from Wikipedia?

Keep the negativity off the soapbox.

M. Salut well knows I am no fan of social media. Like all forms of technology it is how it is used which makes it a valuable tool or simply an embarrasing liability. There are many reasons I’m no fan of Twitter and Facebook. The fact that many so called news sites simply reproduce people’s Tweets as news is one. The ease with which those who so wish can make derogatory and inflammatory comments is another.

There is an anonymity about the internet which reduces the social restraints on people and makes them say and repeat things they might think twice about uttering aloud in public. Then again it might not but a loud mouthed, hard of thinking bigot, ranting in a back street boozer or on Speakers Corner, has a much smaller audience than those posting on Twitter, Facebook or any of the other social media platforms.

I began writing this before the earlier posting picking up on Sixer’s remarks regarding some fans’ reactions to Josh Maja but it was the treatment of another of our players on social media that prompted me to hit the keyboard. Love him or hate him Lee Cattermole is still one of ours as I write. He may or may not be off to join Gus Poyet in France but until he goes he is still on the payroll and will be until 2021 unless someone offers to sign him fulltime.

When he first came there is no arguing he could be a bit of a liability, getting himself booked or sent off, often for needless challenges in areas of no danger. His behaviour off the field left a lot to be desired too, getting banned from pubs on Teeside and finding himself with Niklas Bendtner damaging cars on Tyneside. But he has calmed down and one thing that is hard to argue against is that he never gives less than 100% commitment. He may not always be as skilful as he was, he may lose his man or misplace a pass but I have never seen him not try. But it seems a section of those who profess to be Sunderland supporters feel it is OK to vilify him on social media, criticising the manager for including him in the squad, then allowing him on the pitch and demanding the club let him go.

There are those stating that he doesn’t want to be at the club and criticising the manager for putting him on ahead of O’Nien on Saturday. Can I assume that those informed comments come from people who socialise with Cattermole and work at the Academy of Light? Thought not. Personally I’ll trust Jack Ross. He works with the players. He knows who has done what in training and how they are reacting to the many changes that are happening just now. If he says he’s talked to Catts and the player is doing what is asked of him then by all means the manager should decide who is in the best place to carry out his plans. O’Nien has so far played just over 45 minutes and has had to uproot himself and move to a new part of the country, get settled and get used to a new club, manager and demands on the way he plays.

I thought JR’s comments about Jack Baldwin interesting. Moving house is stressful for anyone but how much so is it for someone like Max Power, who one minute is sat in bed watching Netflix (he says) on his laptop then two days later, having packed his boots, a toothbrush and a spare pair of pants finds himself running out with ten new team mates at Kennilworth Road. Must be even harder for family men with partners and children to get settled in a new home.

Taking time to settle

It could be that Catts is on his way and by the time this is published a deal might have been done. Even a loan move after all, would free up some of his wages and allow the club a little more flexibility on loan players coming in but he is on a contract and unlike some others is honouring his commitment while still on Wearside. I suspect Lee Cattermole is the type of player who will be motivated, rather than harmed by negativity but what we need at this point is a unified club moving in the same direction and that includes the fans. Supporters support the team by definition. Now is a time when we all need to be seen to be as one. 

It’s early days, there is still progress to be made but this type of public criticism is not helpful and might even affect the mental approach of some of the others in and around the team or those players the club is hoping to bring in.

As was said in one of the better pieces I read recently, Lamine Kone is not a bad player but he certainly performed better when he was a happy player.

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Born in Hetton le Hole, deputy editor Malcolm Dawson's first game at Roker Park was the three all draw with Leicester City at the beginning of the 64-65 season. Having spent more than thirty years living in the East Midlands, he was Chairman and Information Officer of the Heart of England Branch of the Supporters' Association but has now returned to live in County Durham.

8 Responses to “View From the North West Corner: give Catts a break” Subscribe

  1. David August 13, 2018 at 5:38 pm #

    Hear hear and well said.
    I’m gladdened and a little surprised to be able to say that I was surrounded by a lot of positivity at the Charlton match.
    There are reasons to be cheerful just now so let’s enjoy it and choose to be happy.

  2. Phil D August 13, 2018 at 6:03 pm #

    My feelings too about social media. In addition, people waste hours every day on Facebook, and, I have read, it can result in making you miserable and depressed.

  3. ajm6730 August 13, 2018 at 8:50 pm #

    With regard to Lee Cattermole, hear hear.
    I don’t think he should be criticised for lack of effort or personal attacks made on him.
    It may be time for him to move on but not necessarily to villify him.
    This itself has become a sad trait of some sections of our support, in recent years numerous players and particularly managers have been ‘chased’ by the crowd at the SOL making it a poisonous place for them.
    You pay your money and take your choice, but let’s support not denigrate our staff to the point where they don’t want to be here … or even worse, don’t want to come in the first place.

  4. Tom Lynn August 13, 2018 at 10:30 pm #

    Totally agree. I know for a fact from someone very high at SAFC that Lee’s attitude throughout the close season has been very professional and totally committed despite knowing that in an ideal world the club are wanting to sell him.
    He has had numerous issues on and off the pitch at times but he ahead gives his all, despite looking a pale shadow of what he once could be in recent seasons.
    Allegedly he has had hip and injury issues but has continued to play a lot of golf, which is not a great idea if he wants to improve his recent mediocre performances on the pitch.
    However, at least he didn’t go down the sad, gutless road of refusing to play for Sunderland once we suffered a second, spineless demotion last season like some of his pathetic team mates. By all accounts, he’s grown to love SAFC despite his Teesside roots.
    The social media critics who slaughter him whilst hiding behind avatars and pseudonyms should at least have the courage to put their names to their over the top slagging of a lad who is struggling for fitness and form but who does care and try his best.
    If he stays on Wearside let’s hope he can recapture some form soon and be an asset in the future.
    Tom Lynn

  5. Bob Graham August 13, 2018 at 10:32 pm #

    I have long been a critic of Cattermole’s continued ability to perform at the highest level. On the one hand, I have criticised his poor passing, his woeful goal-scoring record, the number unnecessary bookings he picks up, his increasingly poor positional play, and his ability to get under the skin of even the most friendly of referees. On the other hand, I have never criticised him for lack of commitment or effort, and it really irritate me that some fans choose those reasons to have a go at him.
    I believe that we should never get on any player’s back because he’s not good enough; the manager picks him to do a job, as long he shows commitment and effort, we shouldn’t get on his back.
    If Cattermole is still here on Sept 1st, he will be picked from time to time and there will be games when he will be poor. After watching Bali Mumba’s confident passing straight to black (or is it charcoal, you decide!) shirt, it was a frustration to see Catts spraying the ball out of play on more occasions than we would like. Barring a massive injury list, Catts will be playing a bit part, not because he lacks commitment or effort, but because he can no longer play to the intensity that is required in the UK any more. It’s not his fault, it’s all the knee and back injuries he’s had over the years taking their toll. It’s also not his fault that his agent (she who shall remain nameless in this reply) negotiated a contract which makes it so difficult for him to find a new employer.
    A move to France, Germany or the Netherlands would suit Cattermole down to the ground and will see him playing for several years longer than he will achieve in Britain. I hope he takes the opportunity if it really is there and wish him well, but if he doesn’t go, we should get behind him as we should every other player, because the mistake he makes won’t be through lack of courage, commitment or effort!

  6. Neil August 14, 2018 at 7:36 am #

    A couple of seasons ago Catts single-handedly kept us in the Prem. For this alone he should be thanked.
    Apropos his talent it is true he is no Glenn Hoddle. Then again he has captained every club he has played for…and the England U21s. The 6 year contract was ill-advised….that applies to all players. What were we doing?

    Our fans reflect society and as such a minority will abuse social media for all of the reasons herein. It is the new reality. The amount of click bait is stunning. The solution is to stick to sites that suit your needs.

    I don’t feel the need to trash others. Hence for me Salut Sunderland is my chosen site. This article is an exemplar. Catts is an easy target….and some people can’t resist an easy target.

    In, say, 10 years when Catts returns to the SoL, he will be treated as a legend….

  7. Brian August 14, 2018 at 9:59 am #

    Football fans are very fickle. Whatever people think about catts every manager since bruce has picked him when he has been fit and what a diverse bunch it has been.
    Not the lads fault the wedge he earns. He never forced anyone to give it to him.
    Amazingly Roker Report are today suggesting we give Darren Bent another chance despite him making catts look like mandela in the venality game. RR ( pandering to the lowest common denominator ) have been bagging catts for weeks despite ross asking us all to calm down yet Bent deserves forgiveness.
    I have no problem with either player. Its the world we live in.

  8. wrinkly pete August 14, 2018 at 3:44 pm #

    Great article Malcolm. You and I may not agree on some topics eg., Ellis Short but on this we do. The question is – How do we stop the Boo Boys, be it on social media or actually at the games? I can only suggest it is by out shouting them as I suspect even their “I’ve paid my money and I’ll do what I want” attitude will not allow them to overcome the volume of the genuine supporters in full flow.

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