LEE CATTERMOLE says HE instigated clear-the-air talks with Martin O’Neill after being handed the fifth red card of his Sunderland career.
Sunderland boss O’Neill was left fuming after Cattermole was sent off at MK Dons last month, when the skipper joined Kevin Ball and Gary Bennett as the joint most dismissed player in the club’s history.
Cattermole immediately headed for the manager’s office to face his medicine when the players reconvened at the Academy of Light, as O’Neill counted the cost of losing the 24-year-old for the three subsequent Premier League outings.
Although O’Neill stressed the importance of Cattermole regulating his tackling, he didn’t hold it against the ex-Middlesbrough midfielder after weeks of talks over a new contract concluded last weekend with a three-year extension to his deal.
Cattermole the Echo: “I asked to go and see him after MK Dons and I didn’t get a word in!
“So I just walked out five minutes later after he’d said his piece.
“But I wanted it to be like that. I wanted him to get it off his chest so it didn’t drag out over the three weeks, with him looking at me every day thinking ‘you’...
“He was good with me. He said he hadn’t changed his opinion of me and didn’t want me to change in any way, just recognise the challenges you can and can’t make.
“I definitely won’t stop making tackles because it’s such an important part of my game.
“But it’s something I need to be careful with because it’s a high energy game and I think I bring something to the team. But obviously the manager wants me on the pitch.”
Cattermole admits he took time to consider his future during the summer after entering the final 12 months of his contract.
But he became convinced that remaining at the Stadium of Light offered the best route to future success after thriving at the heart of Sunderland’s midfield since O’Neill succeeded Steve Bruce.
“The gaffer made it clear to me at the end of last season that he wanted to keep me at the club,” added Cattermole, who joined Sunderland from Wigan in a £6million deal in the summer of 2009.
“I thought about it over the summer – that going into the last year of your contract, you could potentially walk away for free.
“But I made my mind up. I thought this was the best place for me.
“If I had left, I think I would have been a bit disappointed.
“I’ve got more to offer at this football club. I’ve threatened that a couple of times before I’ve got injured or suspended.
“I’m in a good position, captain of the club and we’re heading in the right direction.
“It’s a great club. The manager has got loads of experience and he has definitely helped me since he came here.
“My form has been good for him and I think that’s why he’s given me a new contract.
“There’s been a couple of slip-ups, but you keep going and I know there’s areas of my game I need to improve on.
“Hopefully we’ll see that through the season.”