George Honeyman comes in for a lot of criticism, so I thought I’d put forward my opinion on the Prudhoe-born midfielder.
Firstly, I don’t believe he should be captain. Fair enough, at the start of last season we were lacking leaders in the squad, as Catts looked to be on his way out; Leadbitter hadn’t joined and Aiden McGeady was injured.
So, going into last season when Jack Ross appointed George Honeyman as skipper you could kind of understand why. However, as last season progressed his leadership qualities were brought into question as he wasn't as vocal on the pitch as many would have hoped and rarely got in the referee's ear, like our opponents. In the Checkatrade Trophy, for example, Lee Cattermole stepped up to take a penalty. George didn’t. This perhaps displays a lack of leadership, as he was accused of bottling it on the big occasion.
Secondly, many don’t think he’s effective enough as a number 10 and that he doesn’t create nearly enough chances on the ball. A look at the stats backs this up, last season he managed a measly three assist in 38 league matches. His goal return of six is also not fantastic for a player playing in a team looking to win the league.
Chris Maguire is, of course, a natural number 10 who links midfield and attack really well and scores goals, although it’s questionable whether the former Oxford playmaker would track back as much as Honeyman. That said in a team looking to finish in the top two, with only one up front, surely, we can afford a more create edge to our system to help turn all those draws into a few more wins.
I do like Honeyman though and admire his work ethic and believe he can still be an important player, playing a bit deeper, perhaps providing the legs for Cattermole shielding the defence. We saw him perform there in the Championship under both Simon Grayson and Chris Coleman.
Furthermore, Honeyman can also be utilised as a winger. He is quite quick and can link up with our right back, whoever it may be in the upcoming season. Again, in the Championship George featured on the right, so the position isn’t entirely unknown to him. The work rate of Honeyman could also be useful when defending.
In conclusion, I reckon George still has a role to be play at Sunderland. However, I don’t think playing him behind the striker, as he did last year, does him or the team any favours…