Across the Premier League this season, there are going to be plenty of footballers under pressure, but one such example you may not immediately think of is Newcastle United's Jack Colback.
Crossing the divide between two great rivals in football can often be seen as a move that thrusts you into the spotlight as a footballer. Recent examples of Carlos Tevez and Sol Campbell are testimony to that, but as well as giving you more attention in media circles, it can often be a move that launches your career into orbit.
Colback is going to face plenty of attention (and pressure) this season after his move across the north-east from Sunderland to boyhood club Newcastle. But if he can play to his potential (as we saw on occasions last year), then he has all the tools to be a vital cog in Alan Pardew's side this year, as they strive for a much improved season this time around.
And Colback himself is set for a huge year, as he looks to plug the gaps that United had in their midfield last season.
Pardew has already told the media that Colback isn't here to make up the numbers, and when you look at his stats from last season, it's easy to see why. Arguably one of Newcastle United's chief failings last year was in attack, with Pardew admitting that his side struggled to overhaul losing positions last time around.
Scoring 43 goals in just 38 games would suggest that's very much the case, and attack is clearly an area United have tried to strengthen this season. But while Siem de Jong, Emmanuel Riviere and Ayoze Perez will be the three new signings from whom goals are largely expected, it is the work Colback will do behind them that could have equally as large a bearing.
His pass accuracy of 89 per cent last season was higher than any midfielder who pulled on a Newcastle United shirt (per Squawka), and in that central midfield role he is likely to play, Colback will fast become the hub of a Newcastle United side that simply craves goals. The forwards are nothing without a strong midfield behind them, and in Colback, Newcastle have a man who can get moves flowing with consummate ease.
Also, their midfield guile seemed to disappear across the Channel with Yohan Cabaye in January, so Colback's steely determination and excellent passing ability will become a huge component of Newcastle's success. Sitting in front of the back four is often overlooked as an important role in modern-day football, but the success of Germany at the World Cup has brought the role back into prominence.
That isn't to say Colback is a Bastian Schweinsteiger or a Sami Khedira, but he will certainly provide Newcastle with an element of defensive capability that they didn't seem to possess last year. Colback was far and away Sunderland's strongest midfielder in defence last year (again, via Squawka) with an impressive 54 clearances and 39 interceptions in the 33 Premier League games.
Is Jack Colback going to be regarded as Newcastle United's most exciting signing of the 2014/15 season? Absolutely not. But it is often the less exciting players who become the most important ones. The fulcrum of a side, if you will. And with Colback anchoring the Newcastle United midfield in both defence and attack, they have a player who is ready to make a big impact with his new team this year.
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