Jack Ford says: “No!”
In his book, “Quiet Leadership”, Carlo Ancelotti identifies the two types of dressing room leaders that exist in football.
First the “personality leaders”, those that command respect and authority through the strength of their character, vocal on and off the pitch to organise and cajole his teammates.
Second, Ancelotti describes the “technical leaders”, players who may be quieter or reserved but lead by example in games and in training; always working to the utmost of their abilities, and inspiring the team through the strength of their performances.
I believe George Honeyman doesn’t fit either of these descriptions... yet.
Honeyman seems a quiet character, lacking the charisma of a “personality leader” - certainly not the type to deliver a rousing team-talk or a necessary bollocking to his peers.
More importantly, if he did try those things, would he have the authority required for anyone to take him seriously? Honeyman is still a young, inexperienced player, and the only two seasons he’s been a serious first-team contender for Sunderland have both ended in unqualified failure.
Similarly, while Honeyman was one of the only players to emerge with some credit last season, he still hasn’t convinced the entire Sunderland fanbase, never mind his fellow players, that he has the quality to be a key player here. He had a promising last season, delivering seven goals and two assists, but he’s yet to reach the level whereby he can inspire his teammates as a “technical leader”.
That we’re even having this debate shows the worrying leadership void affecting Sunderland’s squad. This has been recognised by the club, as the raft of rumours linking us with club captain centre-backs demonstrates, but is nowhere near fixed yet.
We need to recruit experienced, proven players from outside the club that young players like Honeyman can learn from and be inspired by. Model professionals that have enjoyed success and non-toxic environments and can import a winning culture. While I’d love to see a local lad wearing the armband, we need a captain who is the antithesis of what Sunderland AFC has come to represent.
Rather than risking hampering Honeyman’s development, muddying his focus with the burden of captaincy and expectations of Roy of the Rovers performances, we need to free him to embrace the opportunity afforded by relegation. Let George express himself and learn his craft, and hopefully deliver the goals from midfield we desperately need.
Patrick Hollis says: “Yes!”
George Honeyman has been at the club since he was ten and, in this time, he’s worked his way up to the first team. Honeyman was deservedly given his chance in the relegation campaign of 2016-17. Last season, however, he came into his own.
Playing in 41 of the 46 league matches last season, he was one of the few players who didn’t disgrace himself. Towards the end of the campaign, Honeyman built up a good partnership with Lynden Gooch. The pair were two of the most threatening players, but these performances weren’t enough to save Sunderland from a second successive relegation. That being said, Honeyman has done enough to show that he should be given the captain’s armband for this coming season.
In the wake of last season, Honeyman was rumoured to be part of the masses of players keen on leaving Wearside. This was disappointing at the time, but it was a case of if they don’t want to stay then let them go. No time to be sentimental. Yet since pre-season started, it appears many of these players have had a change of heart; including Honeyman.
Some fans may find it hard to forgive his change of heart, but this should be respected. He’s shown that he wants to remain at Sunderland and he should be rewarded by being given the captaincy he deserves.
It’s important for a club to have local players within its first-team. That was the case at Sunderland last year, and it will most likely continue in the same fashion this season. Honeyman is arguably the most experienced of our academy products and this combination of locality and experience makes him the perfect candidate to lead Sunderland on the pitch next season. His energy and ability are factors which will be needed for what will be another hard campaign in the football league, and he will be a leader on the pitch.
George Honeyman will make a good captain this season. He is a hard-working player with a fine combination of youth and experience; the fact that he has been at Sunderland for over half of his life and that he’s a Sunderland fan shows that he knows what it means to represent Sunderland Association Football Club.
In the perfect world, Honeyman will be the man to lift the League One trophy next May. However, that’s more hope than expectation. What every happens next season, I see no reason for Honeyman not to be wearing the captains armband next season.
Who do you agree with? Let us know in the comments section below.