Has Catt Solved Flanker Conundrum?

HAS LEE Cattermole solved Boro’s long standing problem on the right?
Certainly the defensive midfielder turned makeshift wideman showed more of an attacking threat down that flank against Everton than Stuart Parnaby, Gaizka Mendieta and James Morrison have mustered between them all season. Added to that, his willingness to track back, his ability to close down quickly and his bite in the tackle gave the right flank added protection and a reassuring solidity about it that has been lacking for years.
Cattermole was a revelation – but his barnstorming display in an alien position role must raise big questionmarks over the current trio of contenders for that role.


That a teenager playing out of position can come in and have a stormer and make the job look so easy only serves to underline the weaknesses of the rival contenders for that role.
To be fair to the trio who are seen as the current right sided multiple choice answer for Boro’s trickiest selection problem, none of them are natural flankers either. Mendieta is clearly a central midfielder, and one that needs time and space to operate in. On the flank his lack of pace is cruelly exposed and he looks as worried at being deployed there as the crowd do.
Morrison was a central midfielder as he came through the ranks and only put on the right by McClaren because as a scarcity of other options. He offers pace and enthusiasm but lacks the physical presence to match imposing opposition, is not a brilliant crosser of the ball and is weak when it comes to the defensive duties.
And Parnaby is a player without portfolio that has never looked entirely comfortable on the right. He was a central midfielder as a junior, was converted to a central defender and then later pushed out to right back to fill a hole. McClaren then pushed him forward, not primarily as a creative flanker but as a wing-back with a cautious brief. He offers more on the defensive side as that has become his stock-in-trade but he is limited when it comes to pushing forward, beating his man or floating in the telling cross.
The other alternatives in the squad are equally flawed. Should the cobwebs ever be dusted off Ray Parlour and the Romford Pele unleashed by Boro again it is hard to see what he could offer as he creaks along the right while Massimo Maccarone will chase lost causes all day long but he rarely creates from the flank and his defensive works is littered with dangerous free-kicks.
So by default Cattermole found himself in the job – and responded with one of the best displays of right sided flankmanship seen at the Riverside since Geremi to leave fans gushing about his versatility and even encourage the wilder talk of the lad being Teesside’s Stevie Gerrard.
It may not be ideal but the marriage of convenience could work for all concerned. Keeping that team – and why change it? – would give Lee the chance to establish himself with regular games while solving the weakness that has left Boro lopsided and hence easy to defend against.
But it would also allow Southgate to play a more adventurous midfield and still harness the zest and pace of Cattermole. If Boro are to play an attacking formation it means a 4-4-2 and a central midfield pairing of Boateng and the Catt does not provide the creativity needed. Yet Catt out wide offers added protection for the defence, relives the pressure on the central two and allows a more adventurous selection in the attacking, schemeing role. Against Everton that was Jason Euell who looked fantastic, covered a lot of ground and was involved in both goals.
On that showing Euell looks a snip and a pronounced threat to the erratic Rochemback who goes walkabout and leaves gaps, still squanders possession needlessly with too many adventurous balls that do not come off and puts in too many missed tackles.
Southgate is still at the experimenting srage with his squad. The experiment with Cattermole on the right was a success. Now to turn base metal into gold.

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24 thoughts on “Has Catt Solved Flanker Conundrum?

  1. Vic
    Agree with the analysis and the way forward entirely.
    We mustn’t now base anything other than cover in desperate circumstances in that position on Romford Ray (who has already said in the London papers that he knows he isn’t in Gate’s plans and will either go to a London club – to be nearer his kids – on a free in January or retire) or Mendieta or Macca. Both of the latter must also be on the way in January and Mendi has shown time after time that it is cruelty to play him wide on the right.
    Parns is a right back but gets forward quite well from there but is like a fish on a bicycle when played from midfield.
    So, in the short term, it’s Catts in the wide right role and Mozza on the bench. The new Catts role gets him into the team when The Boat is in the centre. I never thought they looked comfortable jostling for the same space when they played together in a 4.
    Gate clearly wants to play with Stewie wide left, balanced with someone on the right side who will tuck in more. This works.
    If Euell gives Rocky a view of what is needed for him to compete for a postion to get back in the side then so much the better.
    We still need to strengthen in the window. Stephen Appiah and Gera are possibilities and it seems Gate may be interested in Hibs Scott Brown about whom I know little.

  2. Ray parlour is aptly named as he is probably sitting in one counting his money, Rest Home Pele is probably a more sensible nickname.
    As Vic and John have mulled over the alternatives I will approach the situation from a different tack.
    What we are looking at is a similar set up to that tried by MacMoses so we must heed lessons.
    1. The right sided player must not fall into the same trap as Gerrard. The formation does not work when he spends more time on the left wing than the right. Englands problem was in telling Gerrard he was indispensible and to roam at will.
    Cat is a good young lad and will bust a gut to do whatever is needed to help his club so we know he will do the job. He may not be as attacking as Downing but he must provide a right sided outlet to keep the other teams defence honest. Crosses must come from both flanks.
    2. The holding player must drive the team forward. No Carrick like brush strokes and standing back to admire the overall impression. Boat must drive the team forward.
    3. The strikers must work the channels to move defenders about, get across their markers, make runs. Not like Crouch where Powls and Gill could give him a foot race, well Powls anyway! Defenders like static play with slow build up.
    4. The other person in central mid must be able to get forward and have a physical presence, make runs beyond the strikers. Not do a lampard and gerrard where the ball was passed backwards to them from Carrick.
    5. The final piece of the jigsaw is Downing. He doesnt need to beat 14 men and chip the keeper from 40 yards to have an impact. If we keep the opposition honest he will go inside and outside his man often enough and put in crosses to provide enough amunition for the rest of the team. If we look at his ‘appalling’ performance against Macedonia he created 4 of the 5 chances England had. Against Croatia England created zilch. If the strikers are making runs he will find them.
    We have a good run of matches of matches coming up where we can generate some momentum starting with Toon. Yak and Veruka must run Bramble ragged, if they keep moving he will doze off.
    Simple really.

  3. John Powls description of a ‘fish on a bicycle’ conjoured quite a picture, superb.
    I suppose the first few games of the season have proved that there are several players in the squad who need to move on. Sad to say Macca is one of them. I’m not sure abour John P’s suggestion of Gera, is he commited or just another mercenary? Appiah certainly has a good reputation. But for sure we need reinforcements in this area.
    As for Catt, he just seems to revel in whatever role he is given, accept alongside the Boat! So for now I’m sure he’ll keep his place on the right, if he can perform well there consistently then the team will be a lot stronger for it.

  4. Cattermole is a good stop gap on the right flank until southgate gets a replacement. Only worry is we have no creative outlet on the right and so means more pressure on downing. To push on we need more creativity to supply the strikers

  5. Nigel
    Know what you mean about Gera – but I was impressed by the fact that when he had the opportunity to jump ship from The Baggies when they went down, he didn’t.
    As captain of his country he might also have had messages that playing outside the Prem wouldn’t help his International career. But I haven’t seen the papers full of the usual invites to ‘come and get me’ which appear, more or less coded, from other players in the same situation.
    He hasn’t whined either on the very few occasions he has been omitted, when fit, from The Baggies starting line-up.
    None of that speaks of Gera being any more of a carpet-bagger than any pro-footballer of today and a good deal less than some. Hence, I thought, worthy of being on our list for a good look at.

  6. John and Nigel
    I echo Johns comments about Gera, fact is that he has shown loyalty to the Baggies and if they continue to do well he may be disinclined to make a move in the window preferring to see what the end of the season brings.

  7. Another thought, footballing wisdom has always been that a good team has a strong ‘spine’. We now have Huth/Woodgate (+ Pogatez/Riggot), Boateng and up front Yakubu/Viduka. That’s a strong spine in anyones book. Add to that Downing and the potential starting to show of Euell,Catt,Davies. Despite our poor start our strongest eleven give reason for optimism

  8. Vic, I think you’re being pretty harsh on Rocky. For me, this season he had been our best player. He was the only one creating anything and in order to do this, he was having to do a hell of a lot of work. When he first arrived last season he struggled but since about Jan onwards I think he’s been decent.

  9. Nigel. What about Taylor? I’d put him above many of those who’s potential is starting to show. Keep up the positive thinking, though!

  10. OK, Euell looked good second half when he was pushed further forward but first half when played deep provided no positive impact . He can play on the right side and provide crosses and to be honest I’d rather Euell there and Macca in the hole then Lee on the right (altho I think Cattermole could become a v good defensive midfielder)

  11. Jay – what point are you trying to make about Arca? That he got injured on purpose? I have seen no reason yet to doubt his commitment or loyalty.

  12. Did anyone else see yakubu’s air shot when he fel over..made me chuckle!
    Its probably the noise form the 12thman brigade that put him off.
    Rocky is a defensive midfielder, steve mac thought different. Being brazilian doesnt mean you have a licence to be the new juninho. Rockembachs discipline on the pitch is terrible as he never keeps his positions and flaots around which leaves us vunerable at the back to counter attacks

  13. It seems blatantly obvious that we need a new right winger. OK Cattermole did a good job, but he neither has the pace or the skill to play there week in week out. We must be doing the homework and getting things in place to sign a suitable player as soon as the window opens.
    As for Saturday and who plays at the back I reckon Pogo should be a certainty as there is no reason to leave him out. Huth is returning from injury and could possibly do with a rest and Woodie shouldn’t be rushed back.
    If we drop Pogo it just says that the big names get picked first. That would be a body blow to a player who has risen from the ashes phoenix-like from being a talentless, hotted-headed MacBuy to a Premiership rock.
    (on the Arca score I didn’t necessarily have a point I just wanted show one similarity between the two players. Sorry if that miffs anyone!)

  14. Andrew Davies is a libability. Rash, poor pace and constantly out of position. The rest of the team looked very good vs Everton. Cattermole turned in a polished performance, though his tackle in the middle of the park was a little over the top. Get Tony MacMahon back and Arca in the Zenden-role and we’ll be set. Robbie Keane sat out for 90 at the weekend and has been the one that got away on too many occassions for the Boro. See what you can do eh Vic!

  15. bri, you been sniffing the glue again down hemlington? Davies is having a great season. Atleast southgate has some confidence in him unlike clueless mcclaren

  16. Ok lets not get carried away with the Cattermole performance. Its only one performance, so lets see if he can continue to play there consistantly first. Still need a right mid in January and Gera is a good shout

  17. Just read the blog, brilliant as always.
    In regards to the right hand side, I tell you what guys, Southgate has made the right decision of not rushing into transfers. i.e. Doula from Sporting Lisbon- on loan to portsmouth and can’t even get a game.
    That says it all for me. Gareth seems to be do well with the squad he’s got, some people might slate me for saying that but come on we are never going to get relegated.
    Keep up the good work, looking forward to the next editoon.
    Wayne

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