Lee Cattermole's improvements since Gus Poyet's were rewarded last week as he won the award for the North East Football Writers’ player of the year for 2014.
It was recognition for the form that Cattermole has shown in recent times, which has belied his reputation.
The dogged central-midfielder had been labelled as a dirty, clogger who was better at kicking other players rather than the ball, but he has proven this opinion to be way off the mark.
Cattermole has shown his ability to dictate play and highlighted his adeptness with the ball at his feet since the Uruguayan took charge and Poyet believes the 26-year-old has learnt a lot under his stewardship.
Indeed, Poyet says that Cattermole now performs a 'special role' for the team, which relies on him being tactically switched on.
"We come from two totally different countries and ways of understanding football, he but he has something we always want in terms of that desire and willingness," Poyet told the club's official site.
“We wanted Lee’s position to have a special role in the game, so he had to learn the tactical side we wanted.
“He was very open-minded and got it; he is always open to listening and interchanging opinions."
Cattermole is likely to continue playing a vital role for Sunderland as they look to avoid the drop this season.
The Black Cats required a miraculous escape during the last campaign and they will determined to give their supporters and easier ride this time around.
As is stands, they are three points above the bottom three in 14th spot but they will realise that they could drop back into the relegation zone should results go against them this weekend.
Sunderland face Leicester City on Saturday knowing that a defeat in the fixture will see the Foxes leapfrog them in the standings and that is something they can ill-afford.
Poyet's men have been improved in their last two matches, avoiding defeat in both, and they will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to three at the King Power Stadium.