He’s a young man to take it on but he is absolutely delighted, chuffed to have that responsibility. It’s a really good fit for us and he’ll grow with that responsibility.
Responsibility - a term and role which must not be taken lightly. This is the key asset to leadership, to not make excuses, shy out and avoid. In George Honeyman, Sunderland have a man almost made to be captain.
Aside from loving the club - where he has been nurtured for 13 years - he is a model professional in terms of how he holds himself and his work-rate. Of course, he is essentially considered marmite as scores of fans either love or loathe him - I am firmly in the former. All the way from when relegation was confirmed, I have been hoping Honeyman would be the new captain.
Over the summer, a few controversies arose regarding Honeyman’s apparent desire to stay at Sunderland and ire was caused over the fact his agent is former CEO Margaret Byrne.
However, Ross has immediately addressed this:
My direct conversations with players have been a bit different to some of the comments that you’ve seen made.
Sometimes information can be passed through third parties that isn’t always entirely reflective of a player’s opinion.
Do players want to play at the highest level they can? Of course they do. But there are a lot of different things in the mix.
Everyone at the club is acutely aware of the feelings of Sunderland fans - both optimistic and pessimistic. However, he has confirmed Honeyman is totally committed - as many expected:
Never once have I seen from George anything less than him being absolutely committed to this club. I hope people understand that.
He’s come through the ranks at this club and he loves this club. He has suffered over the last few years, as a lot of people have, but the difference between George and some of the other ones is that it still stings him, he is still hurting.
Incredible honour and privilege to captain this great club. Anyone close to me knows how much this means to me. Thank you so much for your kind messages they mean the world. Can’t wait for it all to start on Saturday pic.twitter.com/q27cmjQaHM— George Honeyman (@GHoneyman10) August 1, 2018
The last part is crucial. Ross himself is a big fan of psychology within football and football mindfulness. Honeyman can take the hurt of the last two years (last season particularly) and aim to lead the rebuild of the club on the pitch just as Ross does on the sidelines and Donald in the executive boxes.
The whole club needs to be on the same page, all the way down from the board of directors to the fans in the stands, and for the first time since Roy Keane was in charge and Niall Quinn was chairman, this could be the case.
I honestly find it baffling that Sunderland fans could not love Honeyman. All we constantly remark is that we simply want players who play for the shirt. True effort and grit is genuinely favored over genuine technical ability in our sundered land, but if so - why is Honeyman so constantly criticised and scapegoated?
He matches the new look the club are trying to go for, and is the leader of the new guard. He is a young, English midfielder who loves the club and works as hard off the ball as he does on it, and Ross agrees:
He wants to take the club forward and he sees this as a really good opportunity to do that. If you take on the captaincy, it is a symbol. The captain lifts silverware and for him to become one of that number at this club, it is a huge carrot for him.
Honeyman is so highly respected behind the scenes, that no official vice-captain has been named - such is Ross’ trust in the Prudhoe-born midfielder. Of course, there are plenty of experienced captains in the side who can step-up when needed and offer advice to the 23-year-old, but irrevocably this is part of the fresh start both the club and fanbase have been chomping at the bit for.