The club’s announcement of a leadership group being formed was somewhat left field, based on what we’ve seen occur in SR5 over recent years. Corry Evans and Aiden McGeady have been announced as captain and vice-captain respectively, and never has it been more important in recent years to have two experienced individuals as leaders.
This Sunderland team is potentially one of the youngest and most exciting in recent times. Littered with academy graduates and inexperience, it has the potential to be the beginning of a new exciting dawn at the club.
This is the correct approach. For too long, Sunderland have become a spending club. Money has been wasted by countless owners in the past on big names and big money buys without very little return for their buck on the pitch or in ultimate future sales.
It was a failed, aimless process that was not getting us anywhere. With some high potential young players in the club such as Jack Diamond, Dan Neil and Eliott Embelton, it appears that Lee Johnson and the team behind him have changed tack.
With the club in the midst of a change of culture and approach, it was imperative that Johnson had people he could rely on within the dressing room. Experienced leaders.
In the shape of Corry Evans and Aiden McGeady, Johnson has two men who can lead this team forward. Both may have different styles of leadership but both are as essential as the other.
Evans brings an abundance of experience to the club from the highest level. His education came in one of the best academies in this country in Manchester United. Since then, he has gone on to have a stellar career in the upper echelons of the English leagues and represented his country in international tournaments - something that not many League One players can say.
Lee Johnson has described him as someone who can bring ‘calmness’ to the pitch and the dressing room.
Furthermore, his previous manager, Tony Mowbray labelled Evans as ‘well respected and an immense young man’ who is ‘attritional and abrasive’ on the pitch.
That calmness that Evans possesses will be key. It is important as a fanbase that we accept we may have some difficult days with a new inexperienced squad. However, with the likes of Evans in the squad, it is hoped that he can steady the ship when these times come, but also not be afraid to put himself about and lead by example with his attritional nature.
Aiden McGeady brings a completely different style of leadership.
It’s no secret really that Geads likes to be vocal in the dressing room - and most of his managers at Sunderland - even Phil Parkinson - have used him as a sounding board for ideas and advice.
Labelled the ‘talisman’, the Irishman pulls no punches and is not afraid of expressing his opinions as we have seen through many interviews he has done in his time at the club.
McGeady will drive standards and expectations. He will drive the team forward and refuse to accept anything less than the very best.
He is the perfect example for setting the standards and expectations for the younger players in the squad.
There is nothing wrong with this. McGeady appears to understand the expectations of the club and does not shirk this responsibility. He is determined to get this club out of this division and has stated it many times.
The fanbase needs to show a little patience with the squad and manager. This is a new beginning on Wearside. And between Evans and McGeady, let’s hope these two can lead the young Sunderland team by example... with a little success, too.