Or at least it should do, and if Steve Bruce doesn’t get the hint soon then Bobby’s dad might just be knocking on his door making it clear what he can do with his advances and threatening to chop his bid off if he doesn’t keep it to himself.
Yes, I’m talking about Sunderland’s increasingly irritating interest in Lee Cattermole and no I’m not naïve. I know what goes on and it’s understandable that a) Bruce would want to sign one of the best prospects in the country and b) will have sounded the player out about it (maybe even before the end of last season).
What gets me is the way that he’s trying to take the Mick, presumably because of our inexperienced manager, but maybe because that’s the way people treated him when he was at the club.
If he’s not taking the Mick then why was his first bid only £500k more than Latics paid just 12 months ago? And why was his second bid still less than what would have been an acceptable starting offer anyway? He wouldn’t be trying to unsettle the player would he?
Let’s say, in the end of season chats that go on at every club across the country, Bruce has pulled Cattermole and said “So, I might be here at the start of next season, what do think about that? If I went, would you come with me?”. Let’s say that Lee’s answer was “of course boss, if Wigan accept an offer”. How would you make sure that happened?
Well, if you’d worked for Latics you’d know that everyone has their price and that the price is usually lower than you might think. You also might know that balancing the books comes before developing the team. Put them together and you would start at the bottom with your bid and work your way up, as slowly as possible.
Bruce isn’t stupid, he’ll have had a think about what Cattermole was worth heading into the summer, he may even have had a chat with the chairman about it. He knows that the pending new rules increase Cattermole’s worth, and above all he knows that a good U21 Euros will have added a little bit on too, as well as attracting admiring glances from some “bigger teams”.
Sunderland aren’t one of those. Bruce might think he’s shopping at Harrods, but there’s a security guard walking behind him telling him to put anything he picks up down. We know what that’s like, we’ve been there. Sunderland might have some cash, but regardless of what you believe, money doesn’t completely over-ride football considerations.
Either way though, if his tactics get Cattermole out of a Latics’ shirt, Bruce wins. The unlikeliest scenario is that he gets his man, more likely, should a big club become interested, that one of his rivals loses possibly their most key player. The great hope for Latics is that Cattermole himself shows some sense in the situation.
A move to Sunderland could stymie his career. Basically a sideways move, he might get some more cash, but no greater chance of glory, it would also make it harder for him to move on, should he have another season like last and someone else came knocking. A move to a big club could knock him back a few steps, he’s unlikely to get as much first team action and there’s the danger of him spending a couple of years as a ‘forgotten man’.
Staying at Latics keeps him at mid table level in the Premier League, one where he’ll get first team action and enjoy the same risks and potential gains as he would at Sunderland. He’ll get the chance to show continued development and now that the big boys are watching, might get a ‘proper move’ in the summer. “But what about making the World Cup squad” his agent might cry, how many Sunderland players have had England call-ups over the last couple of years?
The outcome though, lays squarely with the player, because as nice as it is to hear a manager say that a player isn’t for sale, we don’t have that privilege. Latics are a selling club, the test is whether we can start picking who we do and don’t sell to.
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