JACK Colback wants to be part of a successful, rather than so-so, Sunderland season – and the midfielder insists securing a top-half finish would represent progress of sorts.
The Black Cats will have to beat Fulham at Craven Cottage this coming Sunday to give themselves a chance of that happening.
But the midfielder says Sunderland have to go all out to snatch back a top-10 place and avoid the bubble created by Martin O’Neill bursting.
He said after Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Bolton: “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 a disappointment.
“We’ve still got a chance to finish in the top 10 and that would be a successful season, especially with the way it started.”
Sunderland have lost momentum after consecutive draws with strugglers Wolves, Aston Villa and Bolton.
But Colback rejects any claim that the team has lost its intensity in recent weeks and instead points to the desire shown by teams battling to beat the drop.
“I don’t think that we play with any less passion, even though there’s nothing left to play for,” he reflected.
“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.
“It’s not hard to get ourselves up for the game.
“But when you are playing teams around the bottom like Bolton and Wolves, who are fighting relegation, they kind of up their game a bit more and it’s always tough.
“It was tough against Bolton at the weekend because they upped their game by 20-30 per cent.”
He concedes, though, that Sunderland should have got across the finishing line.
“Bolton are tough because it is always direct, they get balls into the box and you’ve got to defend a lot, but we should have won,” he said.
“It was another disappointing afternoon for us.
“It was a game that coming into we felt that should be winning – just like the last couple.
“We got the two goals and that should have been enough, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t.”
Colback played a key role in Sunderland’s equaliser against Bolton, providing a slide rule pass for goalscorer Nicklas Bendtner and believes defence-splitting passes can be a major part of his game.
“Setting up goals is something I should be doing more often,” he said.
“I don’t see myself as a midfielder who just wins the ball – I can offer more to the team.”