Righteous indignation. It’s worth writing just for the sound of it, but it pretty much sums up the feeling following Sunderland’s snatching of Lee Cattermole from Latics’ care yesterday. By any measure, and barring the Leaving Latics Curse striking next on Teesside, Steve Bruce has got himself a bargain. At the lower end of the rumours, you can only suspect a release clause, Latics get better value at the top end, but the truth is always exaggerated in these matters, right?
It ‘s not only the truth that get exaggerated, in the last 24 hours emotions have run high, everyone has been fingered as the villain of the piece and anyone who has shown any satisfaction in the deal has been shot down, big style. Fingers have been pointed in each and every direction but most complaints have ended up at the chairman ‘s feet (again).
But just who is to blame here; whose fault can it be when one of your star players sneaks off into the night on the eve of the season. In true Columbo style, let ‘s gather them around the drawing room and examine the evidence.
Let ‘s get him out of the way quickly; he ‘s the character that you ‘re wondering whether you ‘ve missed something, because there ‘s no strong evidence that he did it. If it turns out that Bobby ‘s guilty of anything then it will be naivety. Of course he didn ‘t want to sell Cattermole, his “not for sale” line was a legitimate way of going about business and maybe he even believed it.
None of that changes the fact that, whilst the crime was occurring, he was sat in his office with his hands tied. Just because we find him inspirational doesn ‘t mean that the day to day reality of the club is any different.
Go on, admit it, you thought he did it didn ‘t you? Well it depends what blame you ‘re trying to lay. If you want to get heavy about lack of foresight, over zealousness and a frugal nature then ok he ‘s guilty. His “Cattermole is going nowhere” statement is up there with “not a penny under £6m” and many other indiscretions but they aren ‘t the reason that we ‘ve lost Cattermole.
Ok he ‘s misled us a few times and it would be nice if once he ‘d come out and give us the reality of our financial situation. Most of us know that we need to sell to keep stable that ‘natural ‘ turnover doesn ‘t come close to paying for premier league football. Steve Bruce pretty much had the ‘for sale ‘ sign up for his full 18 months, so why not come out once and admit that Latics ‘ business plan involves buying potential and hoping for a profit.
Ah, Mr Bruce, the famed crime writer. You had the motive and the experience to plan and implement such an ingenious operation. If I was really Peter Faulk then you undoubtedly have a book where the perpetrator used insider knowledge to play mind games, unsettling his victim for weeks before moving in for the kill. But I ‘m not and you don ‘t work for Wigan Athletic any more, so why would we expect any respect or integrity in your dealings with us?
At the end of the day, Bruce is only trying to get the best deal on a good player for his new employers and he ‘s gone about it in a way that he knew would succeed at some point. Did he break any rules, well that ‘s not my call and I dare say those sort of things only matter when it ‘s your club at the sharp end of it.
Some completely random bloke who hasn ‘t particularly featured in the storyline, but you ‘ve been wondering what he was doing there.
Come on, you know it ‘s not really him, but you still watch all the same as I build up a case against him, not noticing that the other person in the room is getting slightly more clammy as the fight or flight instinct kicks in. His he going to pull a gun, make a break for it, or just break down and admit to his sins?
Now, I ‘m not one to place an over significance on past events in the light of new evidence, but I put it to you that one of our suspects was witnessed leaving the DW Stadium in a semi skulk/sprint after Saturday ‘s game. This was after all sane fans (whose lifts hadn ‘t lost the track of time) were in the pub but ahead of any of his team mates, he was clearly trying to get away without being seen.
This was, presumably his final departure, the moment of his moonlight flit. I ‘ll argue that he knew then that he wasn ‘t coming back.
So Lee, we ‘ve seen how others might have eased the way for your disappearance, how their words and actions made them seem complicit in events. But one thing has puzzled me all the way through this investigation. For the person at the middle of all this you ‘ve not had much to say for yourself. Just an “I can ‘t wait to get back and meet the manager”. Not an “I ‘ll wait and see what happens” or an “I ‘m a Wigan Player at the moment” or even a “the interest from Sunderland is flattering”.
It would be too much to expect what would probably have been the truth, “It ‘s like I told the gaffer back in May, if he can get me a good deal of course I ‘d go with him”.
You see, at the end of the day, there ‘s only Lee Cattermole who can tell us why he left Wigan Athletic. It ‘s clear now that he never wanted to stay and maybe the only hope that we had of keeping him would be if Liverpool ‘s interest stayed up until the end of the month, but never materialised.
No doubt Lee had his reasons for wanting to go. Whether they were footballing, family or monetary, he will have had them and I guess they have been there since either a) Steve Bruce left b) Roberto Martinez took over or c) someone offered to increase his wages by a ridiculous amount. If anyone has lied to us here it ‘s Cattermole.
He lied when he signed his contract, he lied when he let us think he was bothered and he lied when he didn ‘t stand up and say, ‘that ‘s it folks, what I want is… ‘.
But I guess that ‘s football these days, and that ‘s the real crime.
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