JACK Colback went to bed on Saturday night dreaming of scoring the winning goal for Newcastle United against former employers Sunderland.
However, yesterday’s Tyne-Wear derby turned into a nightmare for the midfielder and his United team-mates as Sunderland grabbed a 90th minute winner at St James’s Park.
In the matchday programme for the game, Colback – who controversially moved from Sunderland to boyhood club Newcastle on a free transfer in the summer – described how he would react were he to score.
He said that he would jump into the Gallowgate End with his shirt off, but at the end of the game, his shirt was pulled over his head for an altogether different reason.
Colback was not to be the United hero on a day they badly needed one, with Alan Pardew’s players unable to get the crucial breakthrough.
And it was Adam Johnson who was to provide the crucial intervention with his late strike at the Gallowgate End, where Colback had imagined scoring the winner himself.
All eyes were on Colback going into the game as he lined up against Sunderland for the first time.
He strode into St James’s Park with a huge smile on his face, and there was never any question this occasion would get to him.
Colback has good character and is not easily over-awed, but the Sunderland fans left him in no doubts as to their feelings on his summer move every time he touched the ball.
The 25-year-old has been a key player since joining Newcastle, and perhaps only Moussa Sissoko has been more influential for Pardew’s side since their testing start to the season.
His performance against Chelsea, in particular, was crucial, with Colback able to do much of the less heralded work, allowing the likes of Sissoko and Papiss Demba Cisse to thrive.
He was unable to have a big influence against Sunderland, though, with a booking on 25 minutes the main incident of note involving Colback.
He will have been frustrated not to have been able to thrive in attacking areas, but did offer good protection in front of the back four alongside Cheik Tiote for the most part, before taking on that responsibility with Sissoko after the Ivorian was withdrawn.
In the end, Johnson grabbed the winner in a game which could have gone either way, emulating Colback, who scored the final goal in the fixture last season.
It was a frustrating afternoon all-round for Newcastle, and Colback would have felt it more than most as his former team-mates made it four wins in a row against their biggest rivals.
Colback was a part of three of those Black Cats victories, and has now experienced it from the other side.
It must have been a bit of a strange afternoon for the midfielder, but he can escape relatively blame-free, and will join his team-mates at Old Trafford on Boxing Day for a game United desperately need a positive reaction in.
Colback’s first return to the Stadium of Light is pencilled in for April, and in some respects, that can’t come soon enough for Newcastle.
On the other hand, perhaps United will welcome that near-four month break between derby fixtures. They are surely sick of the sight of Sunderland.