JACK Colback admits Sunderland have been left with mixed emotions after finishing in 13th spot for the second time in three years.
Sunderland never threatened to secure the victory they required to secure a second successive top finish at the Stadium of Light yesterday after a dramatic final day ultimately saw the Black Cats drop two places following their 1-0 defeat to Premier League runners-up Manchester United.
Midfielder Colback says there is a sense of dejection in the Sunderland camp at the eight-game winless streak over the home straight after Martin O’Neill’s men had been well-positioned for a top half finish at the start of April.
But the 22-year-old also concedes that Sunderland would gladly have accepted 13th spot at O’Neill’s inauguration in December, when the Wearsiders were facing a relegation scrap.
Colback told the Echo: “We’re disappointed with the way we’ve finished the season and the run we’ve been on. We should have picked up more points.
“We started the season hoping and aiming for the top 10. But with the way it started, we would probably have been pleased with where we’ve finished.
“We started really slow and didn’t do very well at all. But we got in the position where we could have easily finished eighth.
“We’ve picked up draws where we should have won and the season has slipped away a bit which is disappointing.
“Maybe we’ve been a bit tired over recent weeks. But as a player, you should be able to play for 38 games over the course of a season. There was a lot of effort over the winter and where we were was remarkable.
“At one stage, we were top of the form guide. That’s the most disappointing thing because we got ourselves in a position where we really could have kicked on and finished where we wanted to.”
Colback had few complaints at the result yesterday after Wayne Rooney’s first half header proved sufficient to secure the victory United needed in the title race.
When the final whistle at the Stadium of Light sounded, title rivals and neighbours Manchester City were level at 2-2 with QPR – a result which would have been sufficient for United to retain the title.
But within seconds of the players trudging to the touchline, Sergio Aguero’s stoppage time strike at the Etihad Stadium sealed a first Premier League crown for City, with the news quickly seeping onto the pitch.
“It was obviously a big day for the two Manchester teams and it was quite remarkable with the way it finished,” added Colback.
“We just had to do our own jobs and were hoping to win and end the season on a high. But unfortunately we weren’t able to do that. When we heard the Man U fans cheering, you assumed QPR had scored.
“And then when I heard them shout again, I thought QPR must have scored again.
“Come the end of the game, I didn’t really know what was happening because the United players weren’t celebrating.
“City have obviously got the two goals at the death to win it. The Man U players probably assumed that they’d done enough and QPR had pulled off a miracle.
“But I suppose that’s the beauty of the Premier League. You just never know what is going to happen.”