Jack Colback: Opponents will hate our style as much as fans love it

Jack Colback believes Gustavo Poyet's style will frustrate Sunderland's opponents and delight their fans in equal measure

Chris Brunskill/Getty Images Jack Colback of Sunderland in action
Jack Colback of Sunderland in action

Having been on the wrong end of Gustavo Poyet-style football himself, Jack Colback thinks it will delight Sunderland’s fans and frustrate their opponents in equal measure.

And winger Adam Johnson believes Sunday’s 1-0 win over his former club Manchester City shows the players now have the confidence to play it.

Colback was part of the Black Cats’ side knocked out of the League Cup in extra-time by Poyet’s Brighton and Hove Albion in August 2011, and the Seagulls’ performance that night left an impression on him.

It was the first of three cup shocks Poyet enjoyed against North East opposition, with Brighton knocking Newcastle United out of the FA Cup in consecutive seasons.

Sunderland showed in glimpses against Southampton and Manchester City last week that they are coming to terms with the Uruguayan’s patient passing style. As they do, Colback expects opposition players to dislike facing the Black Cats.

“He has shown he likes to play from the back and pass the ball,” the 24-year-old said of Poyet’s initial impact. “I remember playing Brighton a couple of years ago in the League Cup, we didn’t touch the ball for the first 20 minutes I don’t think!

“If he can get us playing like that it’ll be great. It’s a style of football the fans have not really had up here. If we can play good football, and get results, that’s perfect.”

Johnson pointed to Sunday’s performance as proof that the team are taking to their new gameplan. Sunderland outpassed Manuel Pellegrini’s City in the first 45 minutes at the Stadium of Light, then defended stoically in the second.

“In the first half we were the better team by far and we passed it really well,” Johnson told Sunderland’s official website. “At times they couldn’t get near us, which is a great sign for us.

“In the second half there were always going to be spells where it was tough but I don’t think they really cut us open time after time.

“Considering the nine men we had second half at Hull it just shows the organisation we have now and the confidence to play and get on the ball. The first half against City, I’d say that was one of the best halves of football I’ve been involved with since I signed.

“If you can keep the ball you don’t have to run, simple as that.”

Johnson hopes the belief garnered by recent results will serve Sunderland well when they return from the international break to play Stoke City and Aston Villa.

“It’s three home games, three wins, now there’s a couple of good away games for us to pick up points,” he said. “We’ve had some real tough home fixtures so to play the teams in and around us we should be more confident now.”

Charlie Adam has described Scotland team-mate Steven Fletcher as the equal of his fellow Premier League strikers, and tipped him to leave Sunderland for “a bigger club”.

“I think he is as good as anyone down south,” said the former Liverpool midfielder, now with Stoke. “He’s been unlucky to have a couple of bad injuries, one with Scotland, another with Sunderland when he hurt his shoulder, but when he’s fit he’s a top, top striker.

“If he can keep banging in goals for Sunderland — apart from next week when we play them! — then he’ll do well. He can get himself another move and play for one of the bigger clubs. I definitely think he’s got that in him.”

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has returned to his loan at Burton Albion after last week’s scare over Keiren Westwood.

Pickford was called back to Wearside after Westwood received an accidental blow to the head from Paul McShane during the 1-0 defeat at Hull City. The 19-year-old was never formally recalled, but missed the Brewers’ FA Cup win over Hereford United at the weekend having trained with his parent club last week.

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