Sunderland midfielder '˜still waiting to wake up' as he thrives under '˜sensational' Jack Ross

Last season, George Honeyman played more minutes than any other Sunderland player.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 29th August 2018, 7:00 am
AFCW 1-2 SAFC EFL League1 25-08-2018 Picture by FRANK REID
AFCW 1-2 SAFC EFL League1 25-08-2018 Picture by FRANK REID

It was a source of deep pride for a player who had come up through the ranks at the Academy of Light and waited a long time for the chance to make a real breakthrough.

Adding seven goals was the icing on the cake.

The experience was soured, however, by a humiliating relegation.

Honeyman was blunt on club media after the team’s fate was sealed, saying that the gravy train must stop and opening up on his hurt at being involved in what many considered the worst Black Cats XI in recent history.

Since then, he has taken the captain’s armband and been a key figure in Jack Ross’s rebuild.

The 23-year-old can’t quite believe his luck.

“I’m still waiting to wake up really,” he said.

“It’s all really surreal how quickly everything has come. Winning football games for Sunderland, as regularly as we are at the minute, is an absolute dream. The feel about the place is brilliant, and I couldn’t be happier going to work. Honestly, it’s the best job in the world at the minute.

“We know it’s probably not always going to be as rosy as this, we just need to keep mentally switched on and keep these good times coming. Why can’t we keep on going out and proving people wrong? In this division, everyone is going to want to take us as a scalp, we just need to keep on matching their challenge.

“We have to constantly stay on the edge and make sure we bring it in every game. In this league, no one will roll over. No one will beat themselves – we have to go out and beat them.

“It’s always going to be a question of, ‘Can we bring it each game?’ You look around the squad and know we have enough to go out and win each game we play if our attitude is right. It’s only going to be our own mentality that gets us beat.”

Honeyman quickly impressed Jack Ross with his application and the respect is mutual.

The captain says the Scot has been ‘sensational’ so far.

“There’s many reasons why things have changed, but the manager has obviously been tremendous since he’s come in, and every lad that’s come in has been different class on and off the pitch,” he said.

“That makes such a big difference to the group that we’ve got.

“It’s going to be a long, tough old season – it’ll be 60-odd games probably – and we’re going to need the whole group. I think you could chuck any of the lads in at the minute and they’d all do a good job, so that’s a real positive for us.

“Him and his staff – John Potter, Jimmy Walker, James Fowler, even Euan the analyst – they’re all great.

“It’s been a real enjoyable time, from the new lads that have come in to how he wants to play football. I think if you speak to any of the lads, they couldn’t be happier at the moment, and to have a whole squad feeling like that is pretty rare in football.

“You normally get a couple of the lads who are left out not too happy, but that’s not the case here. He’s been pretty sensational so far – long may it continue.

“It’s a nice place to play at home at the minute, and let’s just say that’s been unusual in the last few years. There’s a totally different vibe about the place now and it’s a real pleasure being in and around the club.