JACK COLBACK is on to his tenth permanent Sunderland manager since becoming a member of the club’s youth system and thinks Gus Poyet has given the squad the required lift to climb out of trouble.
On the day Poyet revealed injured striker Steven Fletcher was ahead of schedule and in contention to face Swansea City this weekend, Colback reflected on his first eight days under his latest boss at the Stadium of Light.
When the 23-year-old joined Sunderland’s academy aged ten, Peter Reid was in charge until he was sacked in 2002. Since then there have been regular changes to the name occupying the manager’s office, with no man quite lasting three years in the post.
After Howard Wilkinson’s five-month reign, Mick McCarthy, Niall Quinn, Roy Keane, Ricky Sbragia, Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill, Paolo Di Canio and now Poyet have all held the position.
Colback is hoping the latest change will prove successful quickly and first impressions of the former Uruguay international have been favourable.
“I've had a few changes here so I'm quite used to it now!” said Colback. “It's not what you’d hope for and it's not ideal, but these things happen in football and you've got to get over it. All we are thinking about doing is pulling out of the relegation zone.
“Whoever the choice of manager was, it had nothing to do with us. We are just focused on getting results and getting away from the position we are in. It's not been good enough so far but we have a lot of confidence.
“The new manager has come in and his staff have been great with us. They've been really positive. It's been difficult for them to come in at a time when the whole squad is not here during an international break. He's been good and we can't wait for Saturday.”
Sunderland travel to Swansea City knowing a failure to improve on a return of just one point from 21 will heighten relegation concerns before the end of October. That is why the return of Fletcher is seen as such a big boost for Poyet.
There were fears the Scotland international would be still missing for the Wear-Tyne derby on October 27 when he dislocated his shoulder at West Bromwich Albion on September 21.
Poyet revealed on SAFSee yesterday: “There is a big possibility Steven Fletcher could play this week. There are a few positions key to a team, like a keeper and through the spine of the team. We need goals and Fletcher is one of those players who can score goals.
“We are trying to make him train as much as we can without breaking him. He was also happy to be part of the squad with me over the last couple of weeks.”
When Sunderland’s internationals return to the Academy of Light tomorrow for a first session under Poyet, the new boss plans to step up shape and team preparations for the trip to Swansea.
Colback has already experienced the day-to-day routine under Poyet since his appointment nine days ago and has soon warmed to what the former Brighton manager has had to say.
“Training has been similar to when Kevin Ball was in charge, it's been quite normal in that way,” said Colback. “He is trying to get his ideas across slowly. It's difficult for any manager when you come in during the season. You can't drastically change things straight away. All the lads are taking it in.
“A lot of players aren't back yet so it'll be Thursday/Friday when we really get hit with the info. The lads who are here understand what he wants straightaway. It's something we need to translate on to the pitch.
“He basically says he wants us to play, start to play, nice football. He has tried to introduce his own ideas and get his points across. I’m not sure if he has spoken to everyone individually. He pulled me in and I had a really good conversation with him.
“He comes across as very intelligent, the way he wants to play his football - and speaks good English. His staff are confident and positive. We need to start to get results now.”