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Fan Letters: Would a switch to the 3-4-2-1 formation get the best from Sunderland & Honeyman?

Would a switch this summer to a more expansive formation help Jack Ross to not only get the best out of his captain, but also his entire squad? We’re debating systems, tactics and formations - what would you do? Email us:!

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

The latest debate on George Honeyman seemed to get our attention with the first email which was pretty much just an attack on the fella himself by a clown who unfortunately supports the same club as us. But every other email included after that was pretty one sided.

Let’s not kid ourselves, he’s not good enough. Yes he wears his heart on his sleeve and would run through brick walls for the club - but that’s not what wins games. That’s the survival mindset we’ve been so used to for so long. We need players who excel in their position, and unfortunately he’s a waste of a number 10. Compare him to an opponent in this league who plays in that position, i.e. Marcus Maddison and the argument is over.

Assists and goals are what he should be bringing to the team.

Ryan Stephenson

Ed’s Note [Gav]: I can’t disagree that in a comparison with Marcus Maddison, George Honeyman loses. That’s pretty conclusive, particularly after the season Maddison just had. I will note that they don’t actually play the same role or position, and that Maddison’s in Peterborough’s team is a purely creative one - one that he’s flourished in for a few years now.

I don’t think George Honeyman is good enough to play every single week as a number ten in this team. For me, we need to look either for someone who has a proven record as a creative outlet in that role, or at someone who is tall, rangey and athletic and can play as a box-to-box midfielder in the traditional sense of what that means.

Honeyman still has a role, though, and I think that if Jack Ross is wise he’ll be looking at how Sunderland can set up differently to get the best from the players that we have. I’d like to point you towards this piece on the site from Tom Atkinson, looking at where Sunderland fell short last season from a statistical point of view. It’s pretty clear that the system we employed last season wasn’t really getting the best out of anyone bar Aiden McGeady, and that has to change.

I’d like to see Ross trial the 3-4-2-1 system that he used with success at St Mirren. The crucial element is that the team plays with two players sharing the 10 position, and that’s where I think that Honeyman could be vital. His workrate, short passing and ability to get up and down the pitch for ninety minutes with ease (more important than it sounds) would be useful when paired with a far more creative player who can add goals and assists. There’d be less reliance on our wingers to provide the width (none of them are what I’d call a traditional winger anyhow), we’d get more bodies forward to join in with the attacks and we’d get an extra man in defence.

Let’s just see how it goes. What is important is that Jack Ross’s opinion is ultimately the only one that matters, and he sees George Honeyman as a vital component in his team. We either like it, or lump it.

NurPhoto via Getty Images


You are defending the indefensible. I am as much as you entitled to my opinion and as for:

“How on earth you have the gall to declare that fans should hang their heads in shame for supporting the manager’s choice is beyond me, but I’m used to dealing with idiots so I’ll indulge you with a response you frankly don’t deserve.”

The manager’s choice has led us to losing at home in the 2nd round of the FA Cup to Walsall and finishing in 5th place in Division 3 and it is in my small minded, idiot to use your words, opinion that George Honeyman does not do his job seen or “unseen” to any acceptable standard at all, it is also in my opinion that accepting this standard as anything resembling acceptable is in itself a failure and a disservice to every other Sunderland fan who quite rightly sees George Honeyman as an Inferior player who should not be playing for Sunderland.

For me (and I know you think I’m thick after all you said as much!) I know we can point to a whole list of reasons for our demise from 10 years in the premier league to now, but it’s no coincidence also that Honeyman’s introduction to the team was the start of what was to come.

There is simply no way if Big Sam had stayed at Sunderland and we were still in the Premier league that Honeyman would be there any more.

George Honeyman has given you an interview before, I’m not sure if that was the one in which he said his ambition was to play for England! Yes he really did say that and I’m sorry I know you think I was born the day before today but he will finally have to do something really noticeable if he is going to play for England the covert play I missed won’t wash I’m afraid!, he probably has promised you another interview and that could be the reason you have to toe the party line.

Finally I would like to say that I’m not a doom monger but someone who is fed up with the embarrassment of the past few years and I really wish George Honeyman was a good player but he isn’t!

P Leed

Ed’s Note [Gav]: I know we can point to a whole list of reasons for our demise from 10 years in the premier league to now, but it’s no coincidence also that Honeyman’s introduction to the team was the start of what was to come.

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