The Northern Irishman has never been forgiven in certain quarters of the East Yorkshire outfit’s fanbase having overseen the spectacular implosion which led to them being relegated to League One in horrific fashion in 2019-20.
Bouncing back to the Championship at the first attempt and winning the title in the process bought him some favour, however this evaporated quickly following an underwhelming start to life back in the second tier.
Five defeats on the spin saw City mired in the relegation zone as recently as the start of this month, though Saturday’s 2-1 home success against Millwall means that City have now won every match they have played since going down 1-0 at West Bromwich Albion on November 3.
Typically reluctant to acknowledge external pressures following his team’s victory over the Lions, McCann went on to insist that neither he nor his players felt under any presure, even during the aforementioned run of five consecutive losses.
Yet, while that may well have been the case, former Sunderland skipper Honeyman admitted that he is “pleased” that he and his team-mates have been able to ease the weight on their gaffer’s shoulders.
“Listen, we won the league with the gaffer last year, we obviously respect him hugely and want to play for him and want to do well for him,” the 27-year-old said.
“It’s football, when results don’t go well, the fans aren’t going to be happy and the role of the manager, they are probably going to take the brunt of it. That maybe isn’t the fairest thing – but that’s football.
“I’m really pleased that we have turned it around for him with a lot of outside noise. He gives us lots of freedom and confidence to go out and play and puts a lot of trust in us.
“You can never ask for much more than that from a gaffer.”
It was Honeyman himself who broke the deadlock after 29 minutes of Saturday’s clash with Millwall, timing his arrival into the six-yard box to perfection and heading home Jacob Greaves’ left-wing cross.
Tom Bradshaw beat the Hull offside trap to level matters on the stroke of half-time, though Tigers reclaimed the lead seven minutes after the resumption, Ryan Longman pouncing from close range after Bartosz Bialkowski parried Josh Magennis’ effort into his path.
Four victories in a row is certainly no fluke, and Honeyman believes that something has clicked for Tigers in the last month.
He added: “I did an interview after the West Brom game and was obviously down in the dumps but I personally felt that was the first time that I’d been in the team and our shape and commitment and everything was something that I recognised from last year and we have gone from strength to strength after that.
“We’ve got a young team, so belief and confidence is huge, as was getting that win against Barnsley, letting the young lads go and express themselves. We’re a super-talented team, the lads just have to realise that they are good enough to play in this division and hopefully that penny has dropped.
“For me personally, I just want to keep giving the lads confidence to go out and perform and do what they want to do. We have to keep realising how important the work off the ball is in terms of our shape and our work-rate and then we have to go and express ourselves when we have the ball.
“We are a good team, we’ve got good players and this division isn’t anything to be scared of, which might be easy to say after four wins in a row, but I’ve been saying it while sitting watching - and that’s how I’ve felt in games as well.
“Obviously we are on a nice curve now we’ve got to keep humble and keep working hard but I’m confident in this group that this is the start of something that we can really progress with.”
Reflecting on a result which saw Hull pull five points clear of the drop zone, Tigers chief McCann said:“It’s another good win, it was nice to score the first goal again but we’re obviously disappointed to concede when we conceded.
“The changing room was a little bit down at half-time because of it but we picked them up and said ‘we can’t affect that, it’s gone, let’s see if we can start the second half well’ - and we did that.
“We had to be strong at the end. I thought we limited them to not many real efforts at our goal and although we didn’t have many ourselves, we’re just pleased with another three points.”
Hull City: Baxter; Bernard, McLoughlin, Greaves; Longman (Williams 79), Smallwood, Docherty, Lewis-Potter; Honeyman; Wilks (Elder 62), Magennis (Eaves 80). Unused substitutes: Ingram, Cannon, Moncur, Huddlestone.
Millwall: Bilakowski; McNamara, Ballard, Hutchinson, M Wallace; Mitchell, Saville (Evans 82); Ojo (Bennett 72), Bradshaw (Smith 67), J Wallace; Afobe. Unused substitutes: Long, Cooper, Kieftenbeld, Malone.
Referee: J Smith (Lincolnshire).