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Interviews

Pre-Cheltenham | Matt Taylor

4 August 2023

Interviews

Pre-Cheltenham | Matt Taylor

4 August 2023

Matt Taylor conducted his first pre-match press conference as Salop head coach ahead of tomorrow's season-opener against Cheltenham Town.

Shrewsbury welcome Wade Elliott's side to the Croud Meadow for the first game of the 2023/24 campaign.

With a lot of new faces around the place, including Matt himself, tomorrow provides the squad's first opportunity to impress a home crowd in full voice.

Speaking on pre-season, the boss confirmed George Nurse's long-term injury was in fact his ACL again, but reiterated how impressed he was with George's handling of the situation and vowed to support the player as best he could.

In the build-up to the Cheltenham fixture, Matt also discussed the start of the season, letting Tom Bloxham and Aiden O'Brien go out on loan, provided an update on Chey Dunkley's injury, new signing Max Mata and any other incomings and outgoings

On how excited he is for the season to start:

"I'm really excited. I think the players have understood exactly what we're trying to give them in terms of in-possession and out-of-posession messages.

"It will be a different type of fixture because there's a lot more pressure involved with it being the first game of the season. 

"In pre-season, the fixtures we have had have gone well. I think training sessions have been important because we've spent a lot of time here at the training ground trying to make sure the players become more educated on what we want from them.

"But yeah, I'm really looking forward to meeting some of the home fans and hopefully they come out and support us in their numbers because the lads most definitely need them.

"I've not seen the home fans in full voice as of yet so I'm really looking forward to seeing them on Saturday.

On implementing his own style:

"It's been going well. I think there's a balance of listening to the players when we're educating them on how we want them to play because it's imperative it's not always just us talking at them all the time.

"We need to understand that the players are getting it and I think they are. I think the levels of understanding are definitely increasing.

"But yeah, it's been a really fun five weeks now and if you like, the seriousness of the season is now upon us and we're all looking forward to that."

On the mood around the training ground:

"There's always a big turnover of players at any football club. I remember it as a player myself and it's about integrating those new members of the squad into the group as early as possible, and understanding that whilst new players are coming in, that means there's more competition in places of the pitch.

"Would we like more (competition)? Of course we would. At the moment I'm really pleased with the squad. I'm obviously still looking to add to it, but those players, the new ones who have come in have been well received and it'll be great for the fans to see them on Saturday as well. 

"We've done a lot of hard work. The players have almost been reigned in a bit so now they're all ready and raring to go for Saturday.

On Max Mata:

"So Max is someone that came on the radar probably three or four weeks ago. I went over to Ireland to watch him and was suitably impressed with what he can do on and off the ball.

"He's an intelligent footballer, he's hungry, he's a fantastic age and he's somebody that I think has got a really bright future ahead of him.

"He's the type of person and the type of player we want. Is this his pinnacle? I don't think it is, so he most definitely can't wait to showcase his talents in League One and I think we're lucky to have him.

"We fought off a lot of competition to get him. I know Micky (Moore, our director of football) and Tom (Ware, our head of recruitment) worked incredibly hard behind the scenes. The chairman has been extremely supportive in us acquiring Max's services.

"He'll score goals for the football club, no doubt about that. I'm really excited about that and hopefully we can see him on the pitch as soon as possible."

On if some signings are for the future:

"We've got players that probably aren't ready right now and need some work on the training pitch. It's our role as coaches to make sure we help them and get them ready.

"You'll see all of the squad at some point this year, no question of that. It's just making sure that those players are ready when they get their opportunity, and they will be.

"I can't complain about any player's application in pre-season. They've all given everything and they're all desperate for the season to start."

On Tom Bloxham and Aiden O'Brien going out on loan:

"They were difficult decisions.

"Tom has come through the academy here and he's a player who has a fantastic affinity with the club. In saying that, what we felt was that over the past 12-18 months, Tom has missed a lot of his football and lost a lot of development.

"I think understanding that from Spurs and when I worked there and understanding just how important those formative years are, Tom needs to play and I think probably we couldn't guarantee him that, whereas I home Morecambe can.

"It'll be fantastic for Tom to go there. He's working with a good manager in Derek (Adams) as well. Derek will be firm but fair with him and then he'll get opportunities to play.

"Look, he's our player and we want to bring him back. Hopefully when he comes back from his loan spell he'll be a better player.

"With Aiden, football is about being honest with people and I don't think Aiden was going to play as much football as he would've liked here. He's had the opportunity to go to Sutton and he goes with our best wishes.

"It's now imperative that having lost those players, we fill their places in the squad with players we think will complement those already in the building."

On George Nurse's ACL injury:

"I think first and foremost I have to commend George's ability to accept what has happened to him.
 
"He is so unfortunate to have ruptured his ACL through no fault of his own. I must say that.
 
"It was a challenge and unfortunately, the opposing player landed on his knee in such a way.
 
"However, the one thing that I do know, having known George for a short time, is that he has had the mental capacity to accept what has happened to him and that must have been really difficult.
 
"He understands he has a long road ahead of him, our job as a club now is to support him and to give him what he needs mentally and physically.
 
"He is spending some time at home at the moment with his daughter and his partner which is what he needs. For me, family always comes first and he is with the people who love him.
 
"He has our best wishes and my best wishes. I am just disappointed for George because he had shown such fantastic signs during pre-season.
 
"But one thing that I do know is that we will 100 per cent support him as a football club. He is our player and we wish him a speedy recovery.
 
"I think it is (the same leg as last time) but it is slightly different as to the action of how it happened.
 
"He did really well with his rehab. We built him up during pre-season and we were really impressed with where he was physically.
 
"It was just a freak accident and having been on a football pitch a few times myself and being injured, sometimes there isn't anything you can do and I think this was one of those times.
 
"What I will say is that George has taken it extremely well.
 
On Chey Dunkley's injury:
 
"I don't think it'll be any more than that (a couple of games out). He's back on the grass and he's training hard and he's joined in elements of sessions.
 
"Chey is a big player in the squad and we want him back as soon as possible but we understand that we can't rush him back, albeit he's suspended for this game anyway after last season. That just gives him a little more time to get ready.
 
"Once, he's physically able, he's definitely mentally able to get back playing again and we're very much looking forward to having him back around the squad."
 
On playing style:
 
"Taking away any technical information I just want the players to give their all. We've worked on a lot recently but I can't stand here now and tell you what that is!"
 
On the importance of getting off to a good start:
 
"Every coach, every manager and every player wants to get off to a good start, but I'm aware I've lost the first game of the season and won the first game of the season.
 
"What's important is that we respect the opposition which we most definitely do. I think Cheltenham did exceptionally well last season and that Wade has done a great job.
"I think the squad they have there is very capable of competing at this level and it'll be a tough game for us.
 
"It'll be interesting to see how our players deal with the emotion and how we deal with pressure because there most definitely will be pressure moments during this game but it's one we're looking forward to.
 
"We're going to give it everything we've got to get a positive result."
 
On incomings and outgoings between now and the end of the transfer window:
 
"Yes (I am expecting incomings).
 
"[On outgoings] No, I don't think so. You can never say never but we're definitely expecting players in the building."

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