Wise Men Say: Sunderland players could do far worse than following George Honeyman's example
It is often said that the key difference between a pessimist and an optimist is the way they adapt to challenging situations.
A pessimist will interpret the situation in a negative way and struggle to see beyond the pain and suffering they experiencing, whereas an optimist will not only see a clearer path forward, but will make the situation work to their advantage.
In a sense, this encapsulates George Honeyman’s development process at the Stadium of Light.
In a parallel universe, where David Moyes came into the football club, continued the good work of previous boss, Sam Allardyce and stabilised Sunderland as a mid-table Premier League club, George Honeyman would have quietly been released at the end of that campaign with little comment.
After all, until January 2017, Honeyman had struggled to translate his impressive under 23’s performances into first team minutes. He had played just 9 times during a loan spell at Gateshead during the 2014-15 season and boasted just two competitive appearances in a Sunderland shirt.
However, as we all know, the David Moyes era was anything but stable and the young midfielder/attacker was given an opportunity to impress on the Premier League stage.
The Prudhoe-born youth product, didn’t set the world alight during his spell in the first team and would still have found himself released at the end of the 2016/17 season under different circumstances but a combination of his own hard work and financial restrictions at the club saw him rewarded with a contract extension.
Since then he has not looked back and despite Sunderland plummeting through the league’s, Honeyman has become an integral part of the first team squad and was ultimately named captain ahead of the Wearsiders first season in the third tier of English football since 1987.
Throughout this time, Honeyman has never shirked responsibility and during some of the darkest days in the club’s history he stood up to be counted, during the 17/18 season he chipped in with seven goals in all competitions. In isolation, this may not sound impressive, but this return was enough to see him named as joint second top goal scorer with Aiden McGeady.
Last season, he thrived on the responsibility of captaining the club, making 44 appearances as the club agonisingly missed out on promotion at the first time of asking.
Honeyman may not be the most technically gifted player to pull on a red and white shirt and despite playing in a number of positions during his time at the club, it is not clear what his best position is but his commitment to the club cannot be questioned.
It is not George Honeyman’s fault that the club have not been able to find somebody to permanently occupy the number 10 role. It is not George Honeyman’s fault that the bulk of his time in the first team has coincided with so much turmoil.
He may not have made a significant impression on the club he spent almost 14 years at, until he was 22 years of age but he has handled himself with dignity and had an infectious enthusiasm for Sunderland AFC. Sadly, this is not something that could be said about all players.
Statistically, we find ourselves in the worst position in the club’s history but on the verge of the new season. The players in the current squad could do worse than taking a leaf out of George Honeyman’s book by making the best of a bad situation and finding a way to squeeze every last ounce of ability of themselves.