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Roker Roundtable: Looking back would you have sold George Honeyman or offered him a new deal?

In today’s roundtable, our writers discuss George Honeyman and whether the club were right to have sold him, or if they should have offered him a new deal. What do you think?

Sunderland v Coventry City - Sky Bet League One Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Our recent George Honeyman interview has provoked a wide range of reactions... looking back, would you have cashed in and sold him or offered him a new contract?

Paul Fletcher says...

While I wouldn’t have broken the bank to keep him, I would definitely have offered him a new contract with decent terms.

There are always two sides to every story and we’ve only heard Honeyman’s side – but from what he said, it’s clear that he didn’t want to leave. He loves Sunderland and he knows the club, the city and the region inside out. Unlike many who have worn the red and white shirt in the past few seasons, he knows what it means to represent Sunderland. He witnessed first-hand the demise of the club he loves and you get a real sense of how desperate he was to be part of the resurrection.

A cynic may ask whether he’s been taking some PR lessons from the May 2018 version of Charlie Methven. Is he just telling us all exactly what we want to hear at this moment in time? Did the move to Hull play out exactly the way he said or is he spinning it in a way to endear himself to Sunderland fans? My gut instinct says he’s telling the truth.

Firstly, in all the interviews he does, he always comes across as a genuinely great lad (so much so that I feel awful for even doubting him). And secondly, he is no longer a Sunderland player so if anything, the PR move would be to pander to Hull fans. In fact, it’s arguable that in this clickbait era, he’s left himself wide open to abuse from Hull fans. All it would take would be a few out of context quotes spun together with a “REVEALED: George Honeyman never wanted to sign for Hull!” headline. Then, he’d have a few Hull fans turning against him for what he’s saying off the pitch rather than his performances on the pitch.

And here we come to the big question of George Honeyman ‘on the pitch’, which seems to be where most Sunderland supporters are divided. I don’t think many have questioned his love for the club but many have questioned his footballing ability.

Personally, I think he’s a very good League One player and a decent Championship player (if utilised correctly). So letting him go just didn’t make any footballing sense to me. He might only be a 7/10 player but I’d rather have a 7/10 player giving 100% than a potential 8/10 player, giving 50%.

South Shields v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Chris Wynn says...

The decision to make George Honeyman captain at the beginning of the 2018/19 season ahead of our quest for immediate promotion was the game changer in his Sunderland career.

It was a double-edged sword that said everything about the character of the Northumberland-born midfielder, but it’s easy to forget that this appointment came at the beginning of only his second full season as part of the first team.

The majority of fans were fully behind the decision as he is the ultimate professional and as he’d been at Sunderland for so long, he gets it.

The issue with that appointment came with the expectation to improve his performance level out on the pitch. He may have been 23-years-old, but in terms of appearances he was still very much learning his trade and working out exactly what type of player he is.

By the time he was 22-years-old he had less than 20 appearances in professional football, which was as a result of club policy rather than any fault of the player.

As difficult as a decision it would be, the captaincy needed to be passed on and Honeyman be allowed to concentrate on the playing side of his game.

He was a good League One player who served a in a number of positions on the pitch, but not as one of the first names on the teamsheet.

He’s still developing into the player he will become and I think that steps should have been in place to help with that progression in terms of the captaincy alongside a contract offer that reflected that role.

I also think we got decent money for a player in that position going into the last year of his contract but I can’t help but think, like with so many other things, the clubs handling of this was all wrong.

Charlton Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off Final Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Martin Wanless says...

As a person, George Honeyman seems to be exactly the type of player we need at Sunderland, and the type of person who’s been in short supply over recent years. A local lad who’s come through the academy with a Jordan Henderson-esque level of professionalism. (Thank Kevin Ball for that.)

His appointment as captain by Jack Ross was a surprise decision but an understandable one, given his character. It’s idealistic, “Young academy product leads Sunderland back to the championship at the first attempt,” headline making stuff.

And, to be fair to him, he nearly did.

Honeyman is the sort of person I want to be captaining us. He cares. Genuinely cares.

However, I think for some parts of last season his presence in the starting XI were solely because he was captain. And that hindered us.

I’ve watched Honeyman play pretty much every game since he came into the first team and I’d struggle to tell you with any conviction what his best position is. In a central midfield three? Possibly. As a 10? Maybe.

He’s a decent player. An okay player. Nothing more, nothing less.

In some respects, Jack Ross backed himself into a corner by appointing as captain a player who - it turned out - maybe shouldn’t have been guaranteed a starting place.

And I suspect that issue was something that came into consideration when weighing up Hull’s offer.

The club had created a problem for themselves, and the easy route out was to sell him.

I don’t think we are a significantly worse side for selling him. In fact, he simply wouldn’t have fitted into the system Phil Parkinson has adopted since he came to the club.

However, Honeyman deserved a lot more respect than he got.

Would I want him in the starting line up every week? No, we should be aiming higher than that.

Would I want him in the squad, and around the club? Absolutely.

So, all things considered, I’d have offered him a new deal. But only just.

Sunderland v Coventry City - Sky Bet League One Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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