The Black Cats spent four years in the third tier of English football following their back-to-back relegations from the top two divisions between 2016/17 and 2017/18.
Sunderland were unable to break out of League One in the first three seasons and this resulted in a number of players coming in and out of the Stadium of Light during that time.
One player they had a mare with during those three years was attacking midfielder George Honeyman, who had risen through the youth ranks at the club.
Ross added: “He’s a mature and intelligent young man, and his energy levels and application in games will be a major asset for us, so I’m delighted he’s wanted to take on the responsibility.”
In the summer of 2019, the Mackems decided to cash in on the midfielder instead of running the risk of him leaving on a free transfer the following year. He signed for Championship side Hull City in a deal reported to be worth £400k to the Black Cats.
His form since departing Wearside will surely leave Sunderland regretting that they did not take a risk and attempt to convince him to put pen to paper on a new contract.
Although he suffered relegation from the second tier in his first season at Hull, Honeyman caught the eye with a phenomenal campaign in League One in 2020/21. He averaged a sublime SofaScore rating of 7.36 across 42 appearances – a score higher than any Black Cats player managed at that level last term – as he scored four goals and provided a whopping 14 assists, whilst creating 21 ‘big chances’.
The midfielder then made 35 appearances in the Championship for the Tigers in 2021/22 – scoring five and assisting four – before sealing a move to Millwall, where he has enjoyed a strong start to the season.
Honeyman has averaged a SofaScore rating of 7.00 across nine appearances in the division this year, scoring once and assisting one goal whilst creating 1.6 chances per game. That would place him fifth in the current Sunderland squad among players who have played at least five matches.
At the time of writing, Transfermarkt value him at £1.35m, roughly 238% more than the initial £400k Hull paid to snap him up from Wearside.
Therefore, the Black Cats made a mistake by selling Honeyman as his value has gone up, in line with his impressive performances on the pitch, since leaving the club.
They should have taken the risk of him leaving for nothing, instead of accepting a measly fee as they could have been able to work on a new deal, thus cementing his future in the north east.