It finally happened - after four months of the current season have passed, our fearless leader - the Roker Report’s favourite player - George “6/10” Honeyman tops our Power Rankings list for the very first time.
Despite editorial pressure that demands we only ever say nice things about Honeyman, and the inherent bias we hold towards our homegrown captain, it took until week 12 for Honeyman to finally claim the top spot.
All snarkiness aside, Honeyman deserves to be our champion after a series of excellent performances since he was dropped against Shrewsbury Town. He may be undersized in central midfield but nobody can fault his commitment and dogged willingness to get stuck in, plus his intelligent forward runs and movement are even more difficult to track from the middle of the park.
The 24-year-old was BT Sport’s man of the match on Sunday against Port Vale, an accolade he might have received a week earlier at Plymouth if it wasn’t for Aiden McGeady’s goal-scoring exploits.
Outside of captain fantastic it’s hard to separate the rest of the squad in a one game week. Everybody was excellent in the first half hour against Port Vale when we blew away our League Two opponents, whilst the entire team seemed infected with complacency as the Vale dragged themselves back into the cup-tie just before half-time.
The second half performance was even more dependent on the collective, with Sunderland relying on the resilience that has typified our winning streak under Jack Ross. The whole team dug-in to defend Vale’s dangerous set plays, without ever really recreating the flow and fluidity we saw in our passing in the first-half.
In a week of splitting hairs, Jack Baldwin is the big faller - he was partially to blame for Port Vale’s goal and was incredibly fortunate not to concede a second-half penalty.
We also welcome Max Power back to the top 15 of our totem pole. Nobody has yo-yo’d as much as our supremely talented, often suspended, midfield all-rounder. For now, he’s back in our good books after coming off the bench to help the lads through to the FA Cup second round.
1: George Honeyman (3) - Top of the charts for the first time and deservedly so considering his brilliant form during Sunderland’s winning streak.
2: Aiden McGeady (2) - Second for another week - McGeady was involved in most of Sunderland’s good play in the first-half and seems to be building chemistry with Reece James.
3: Tom Flanagan (5) - With every week it’s becoming clearer that Flanagan is the Black Cats’ best centre-half. Another assured performance vaults him back into our top three.
4: Lynden Gooch (8) - A delightful winner and strong showing puts Gooch back into our top five - the American is one of many players who is under severe pressure to keep performing given our midfield and forward options.
5: Jon McLaughlin (1) - Drops four places in part due to a lack of saves he had to make in the FA Cup clash, and if we’re being hyper-critical, McLaughlin did miss a few crosses he left his line for.
6: Chris Maguire (6) - The king stays put at six. He was sensational for half an hour, finding space between Vale’s midfield and defence pulling strings in our dominant spells in the game. However, arguably only Baldwin had a more negative impact on the game from a Sunderland perspective. His two awful crosses when he could have played in Jerome Sinclair for a third goal to kill the tie nearly proved extremely costly.
7: Adam Matthews (9) - Continues his slow climb towards the top, Matthews was highly influential in Sunderland’s dominant opening 30 minutes on Sunday and had few problems defending throughout.
8: Dylan McGeouch (4) - Nobody splits voting in Roker Report towers like our Scottish midfielder this week. Was he good on Sunday? Is he a good player? The debate around McGeouch looks set to rage on with Power and Lee Cattermole (hopefully) back in contention to start matches.
9: Reece James (10) - Shifts up one slot. James remains a reliable defender, even if his lack of attacking influence limits his ability to rise too much further up our charts.
10: Jerome Sinclair (13) - Back into the top ten after laying on Gooch’s killer second goal and holding off Maja to claim our starting centre forward slot.
11: Luke O’Nien (11) - Remains on the periphery of the top ten after once again acting as our energiser bunny, helping the Wearsiders defend from the front late-on when protecting a lead.
12: Jack Baldwin (7) - His first week outside our top ten - Baldwin was very nearly the villain at Vale Park when he found himself in no man’s land for the Port Vale goal, and was extremely fortunate not to concede a second-half spot-kick.
13: Lee Cattermole (12) - Remains in the top 15 despite another week on the sidelines. One of a few players that will be giving Ross selection headaches for league matches going forward.
14: Josh Maja (14) - Stays put at 14 after failing to produce the kind of statement performance he needs to reclaim the starting striker spot ahead of Sinclair.
15: Max Power (27) - Back in the top 15 finally, his added presence helped the team against Port Vale in dealing with substitute Manny Oyeleke’s physicality - the powerful midfielder had caused us problems before Power’s introduction.
16: Denver Hume (15) - Perilously holding onto a top 20 spot despite his prolonged absence through injury, that might change if those below him take their opportunity in the EFL Cup clash with Morecambe.
17: Glenn Loovens (16) - Yet to get any minutes since his return from injury, but with the EFL Cup and Flanagan away on international duty that’s likely to change in week 13.
18: Bali Mumba (17) - Another player in danger of losing his top 20 spot. Ross has made a real effort to find game time for our talented teenager, but international duty for England at youth level calls for our outstanding young prospect.
19: Alim Ozturk (18) - Like Loovens, the international break and EFL Cup offers our Turkish grafter a chance to climb our Power Rankings and get back into the first team.
20: Robbin Ruiter (19) - The window for our Dutch stopper to climb up our ranks and challenge McLaughlin looks to have been slammed shut after our number one snubbed the Scottish national team.
21: Benji Kimpioka (20) - Another player who might have seen first-team action if he wasn’t already playing international youth football this week instead.
22: Charlie Wyke 23: Ethan Robson 24: Donald Love 25: Jack Diamond 26: Lee Connelly 27: Bryan Oviedo 28: Duncan Watmore.