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ANALYSIS: Jack Playing A Risky Game With Toon Switch

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A transfer between Tyneside and Wearside is rare, and it's even rarer that it goes well. Is Colback the man to buck the trend? Probably not.

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Richard Sellers

It's a path that is not littered with success stories, the one between Wearside and Tyneside. A product of Sunderland's academy, Killingworth born Jack Colback now joins the likes of Steven Caldwell, Michael Chopra, Michael Bridges, Lee Clark, Chris Waddle and Paul Bracewell in the ranks of having played in both Tyne and Wear during their career.

A move that has understandably riled certain sections of Sunderland's support, Colback's decision to join Newcastle has raised an interesting question: has he made a shrewd move? Casting aside the tint of red and white spectacles for a moment, we are granted the opportunity to look at the situation subjectively.

In terms of a tactical fit for the 24-year-old, the answer would be no. Only Ki Sung-Yueng had a better pass completion rate than Colback last season. However what reads more interestingly is his lack of attempted long balls. On average he recorded 1.2 per game (WhoScored.com), placing him 15th in the squad.

Joining a side that has consistently been pegged for dealing in long balls, the departure of Yohan Cabaye has forced a change in style at Newcastle. Speaking to the Guardian after the Frenchman's departure Alan Pardew said: "We can't play the same way as we did with Cabaye. We're not going to be the same team we were in the first half of the season. We're looking for something different and I have to get that into play as quickly as possible."

Contrast that with Gus Poyet, a manager who is understood to favour a more technical, short passing game, and questions are raised over whether Pardew's style of play is conducive to Colback's talents?

However with Poyet becoming more settled at the Stadium of Light, there remained a strong possibility that the further implementation of his style and new players suited to that style could have benefits on Colback's progression as a player. Linked with Everton and Swansea, Colback has opted to join a side that is unlikely to play in a style suited to him.

While the settling in period off the pitch is likely to be troublesome for Colback, it would also appear just as turbulent on it. The prime narrative for Sunderland last season was the high turnover of players. There were fourteen new arrivals at the Stadium of Light last summer which consequently bred instability amongst the starting eleven as new faces attempted to adjust to their new surroundings.

With Loic Remy looking unlikely to return to St James' Park, the striker represents just one of a number likely departures from Tyneside. Tim Krul, Gabriel Obertan, Steven Taylor, Sylvain Marveaux, Hatem Ben Arfa, Davide Santon, Mapou-Yanga Mbiwa, and Mathieu Debuchy, have all been linked with a potential departure from the club.

Add that to the confirmed departures of Shola Ameobi, Dan Gosling, and a clutch of youngsters and it would be fair to say that a summer overhaul is due on Tyneside. As the Telegraph reported recently, Alan Pardew is set to be gifted a significant transfer budget with the remit of galvanising the Magpies first team squad. Being a part of that significant change could be destabilising to Colback, as the club attempts to replace another 15 goal a season striker this summer.

Now 24, the former Ipswich loanee is also moving into an important phase of his professional career. Given the period between 24 and 28-years-old is arguably when most of a players' professional development occurs, it cannot be contested  that Colback has indeed taken a risk in moving to Tyneside. Blessed with the potential to break free and succeed on Newcastle, at the moment, his future sits delicately poised between success and failure.