SUNDERLAND midfielder Jack Colback insists the Black Cats’ passion has not gone away even though there is nothing to play for.
Martin O’Neill’s side drew 2-2 against relegation battlers Bolton Wanderers and although Sunderland did end the goal jinx that had plagued them in recent weeks the performance as a whole was patchy.
Only for short periods of time did the Cats hark back to the form that had propelled them up the table following O’Neill’s initial arrival but, given that both relegation and any hope of a Europa League place were both off the table, Sunderland did appear to be going through the motions – something Colback disputes.
He said: “I don’t think that we play with any less passion. We’ve still got a chance to finish in the top ten. That would be a successful season – especially with the way that it started.
“It’s not hard to get ourselves up for the game. But when you are playing teams at the bottom like Bolton or Wolves who are fighting relegation, they kind of up their game more a bit and it’s always tough.
“I think the atmosphere in the crowd is more laid back but we’re paid to do our business on the pitch and we can’t take our foot off the gas at all. What’s been disappointing is that there have been games that we should have won. If results had went our way we could have pushed on and been in eighth place.
“It is tough against Bolton because they’ve upped their game by 20 or 30%. But we’ve got to come into the game with the normal mind-frame that we would in any game. Bolton are tough because against them it is always direct and they get balls into the box and you’ve got to defend a lot. But we should have won. It was another disappointing afternoon for us. It was a game that coming into we felt that we should be winning – just like the last couple.
“We got the two goals and that should have been enough for the win but unfortunately it wasn’t.
“We started slowly and we were not passing it in the right areas but once they scored it gave us a little shake and we started pressing them better, winning the ball and playing well. When we got our goal we could have got a second in the first half.”
With two games of the season left, Colback is determined that the team send the fans into the summer happy by ending the campaign on a high. He added: “Obviously when the new gaffer came in the wheels started rolling straight away and we started moving up the table and the place was buzzing. We don’t want that feeling to slip away now otherwise the season will be seen as a disappointment.
“We need to do well in the last couple of games and end the season on a high.”
Colback was one of the few bright lights last Saturday, producing an excellent assist for Nicklas Bendtner’s goal.
He continued: “It’s something that I should be doing more often (playing balls in like the one to set up Bendtner’s equaliser). I don’t see myself as a midfielder who just wins the ball and I can offer more to the team. Like I say, passes like that are something I should be doing more often.”