Matthew Crichton says...
As both Grant Leadbitter and Max Power featured on the list of players who will not have their tenure on Wearside extended, it is time for a new player to step up as Sunderland captain.
The obvious choice would be Bailey Wright, a player who was Lee Johnson’s captain at Bristol City and has covered at times as captain, but he is lack of form and injury problems leads me to question how frequently he will feature next season. He will certainly wear the armband at times next season, but I am unsure if he will be permanent captain.
Another popular choice would be fan favourite Luke O’Nien, but he is someone who leads by example in work-rate and behaviour off the field, rather than as a more traditional captain in commanding a group. The ex-Wycombe player is the type of player you would love to have more of on the pitch, but I am not sure I view him as a leader.
The obvious choice for me (if he renews his contract) is Aiden McGeady. The Irishman is by far most experienced in the group, having played Champions League and Premier League football, but he is also experienced in League One having played a part in Sunderland’s last three seasons.
McGeady is a player known for his high standards, he is opinionated and someone who wants to win at all costs. For me that is the type of leader Sunderland requires, this clubs needs to create a proper winning mentality and to do that your leader needs to fit that model.
When new players join the club and see Aiden McGeady, they a worldwide recognised player who has played at the highest level in Scotland, Russia and England. For a young 20-year-old joining from the EFL that is exactly the sort of player that would excite you to play alongside.
I feel that given Sunderland have fallen short in the past few years, a player like McGeady will be desperate to end his time with the club on a high by achieving promotion. Ending his time on Wearside with playoff failure would be an anti-climatic ending for a player of his ability.
The downside to McGeady being captain would be that at 35, you would wonder how frequently he could start in a 50-game season, but he has shown in the past six months that he is fit, sharp and capable of making things happen for Sunderland.
Out of current options available, Aiden McGeady would be my captain with Bailey Wright as vice.
Malc Dugdale says...
Given both the club captain in Grant Leadbitter and the team captain Max Power are released in a month, I see this as a chance to firmly define this new era we are told is coming with a fresh and exciting skipper. I think that skipper has to be one of two players; Luke O’Nien or Bailey Wright.
Before the run-in period the last season, if asked the same question the answer would have been Bailey all day long for me. In his previous seasons he has been colossal at the back, using his stature, pace and power to command a back three or four, very frequently being that bloke that made the final block or last ditch tackle.
After his rushed return from injury to a decimated centre back department, many feel he looked a shadow of his former self as we tried and failed to retain the tight back line forged by Sanderson and others, though it remains my view he did his best for the team when we were in dire straits defensively. I am very confident next season, given a consistent partner like a re-signed Dion Sanderson or like Arby Xhemajli, he can and will return to being prime captain material, and one of the best central defenders in the league.
The main competitor for the arm band for me is O’Nien. It should not be under appreciated that the lad won a slot in the league one team of the season while playing in a position he has learned as he went through the last campaign. He has ousted numerous other players natural to that role to get one of them slots, and that isn’t even where he learned his trade. That is something else.
With his ability in a variety of positions, his likeable personality for fans, the squad and the management team, and the never say die attitude he clearly possesses, he would make a great captain to take us up the leagues from this point on.
He appears red and white through and through, someone who can be this generation’s Kevin Ball, and let me assure you I do not use those words lightly. He isn’t from the north east, but by God does he “get us”, at a level only a handful in my lifetime have achieved, Bally being one.
The main thing is we appoint a captain that can understand the revised ethos, playing strategy, and tactics, and who can lead from the front with his whole heart and soul behind the new Sunderland we are about to become.
O’Nien and Wright both strike me as players who can do that, so if either of these get the honour of leading us out and lifting next seasons league one champions trophy, I’ll be a happy fan.
Kelvin Beattie says...
Luke O’Nien and Bailey Wright would seem to be the stand out characters with captaincy attributes within the existing squad. However, could Aiden McGeady bring his maturity and experience to the fore, alongside his undeniable skill and ability and become an unlikely captain in what is already looking like a make or break season in 21/22?
I am not making a strong case for McGeady, I’m simply asking the question.....is he a realistic option for the captaincy?
Would the additional responsibility rest easy on his shoulders? Would the role inhibit his risk taking & the adventurous side of his game that we all love to see?
We know, taking a balanced view from the debacle with Parkinson, that he has high standards and expectations of those around him and that he will make himself heard in the dressing room.
Is he mature and confident enough in his own game, to be able to balance his expectations of others with a need to nurture, support and role model as all good captains can?
When I think of some of the better captains I have witnessed in a Sunderland shirt McGeady would certainly be a “wildcard” bet for the role. Hurley, Kerr, Ball, Bennett, all had pretty obvious captaincy characteristics in their game and personalities.
Will it be “Captain McGeady” running down the wing for us next season? Stranger things have happened.