Craig Cathcart says he had to quit Manchester United for the sake of his career. Cathcart gave up the battle for Old Trafford recognition last week to sign on for what was expected to be a season of struggle at newly promoted Blackpool. Yet no matter what happens to the Bloomfield Road club over the next nine months, no-one will be able to take away the memory of Saturday's shock 4-0 win at Wigan which briefly sent the Seasiders top of the Premier League.
Ian Holloway, the manager, had enough faith in Cathcart to hand the Northern Ireland Under 21 international a starting spot at the DW Stadium. And that is exactly what the central defender was looking for when he went to Sir Alex Ferguson last week and confirmed he was leaving. "This is a fresh start," he said. "I didn't want to sit about just playing in the reserves and the odd Carling Cup game. "I am 21. It is a vital stage of my career and I need to be out playing. The manager understood that. The new 25-man squad system was causing a problem as well, so I jumped at the chance of playing in the Premier League."
Ferguson has always had a high regard for Cathcart's ability, even though a succession of injuries at inopportune times have halted his progress. Successful loan spells with Plymouth and Watford showed what Cathcart was capable of, but the arrival of Chris Smalling and continued development of fellow countryman Jonny Evans blocked the path to a regular place in Ferguson's squad. Cathcart has settled in faster than most people might have imagined. "I didn't expect to be a Blackpool player at the start of last week," he added. "But as soon as the manager spoke to me and told me I was going to be playing, it was an easy decision."
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