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Interviews

Pre Northampton | Matt Taylor

5 October 2023

Interviews

Pre Northampton | Matt Taylor

5 October 2023

Matt Taylor spoke to the media ahead of our League One clash with Northampton.

Town host Jon Brady's side at the Croud Meadow on Saturday looking to bounce back from a defeat at Oxford on Tuesday.

In our last home outing, Matt's side put in an impressive display - and created lots of chances - only to be held to a draw against Charlton. 

Speaking to the assembled media, the boss discussed his decision to rotate his squad at Oxford and the individual errors we made on the night.

And the gaffer also talked about morale in the squad and the importance of sticking to your principles.

On how everyone is after Oxford: 

Everyone is alright. The only concern we had was Tom Flanagan. But he has trained well today so I don’t foresee any injuries. 

Obviously we had a tough injury with Ryan Finnigan this time last week so you can never say, never. 

“But as it stands at the moment all of the players are fit and ready if selected.” 

On rotating the squad on Tuesday: 

“It was a discussion we had as a group of staff. We felt that with it being a three-game week – and with a lot of the players having given everything against Charlton – it was trying to manage the squad so that everybody is ready and raring to go. 

It’s never an exact science. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But I do feel that the competition in the squad is healthy and I have full trust in the players who went out onto the pitch on Tuesday. It will be the same on Saturday whatever team is picked. 

“Yes, there were some tired bodies and some players that may have flagged up as a (injury) concern. 

“What we wanted to do was be in a position where we had a full squad to choose from on Tuesday night and a full squad to pick from for the game on Saturday and it looks that way at the moment so that’s a positive.” 

On how difficult it is leaving players out: 

You tell them the truth, you have to have an honest conversation. You expect them to be professional and you ask them to trust in the process. 

It’s something I went through as a player. We are at a point in the season where it is still relatively early. 

It’s never easy to leave anyone out of the team. But I think the players have responded well 

“And I know everybody is desperate to play on Saturday. Whoever is selected, I’m sure they will go out and give everything. 

“But what we didn’t want to do and what we can’t do – we don’t have a massive squad – and we didn’t want to be in a position where players can’t do themselves justice when they get those moments and those minutes. That’s a part of the thought process behind it. 

But I also think we have got a really competitive squad. We have got players that have played more football than others this season. That is always going to be the way in any squad in the country. 

“My job now is to make sure I pick a team that is worthy of winning a game against Northampton.” 

On the individual errors at Oxford: 

“The mentality has to be really strong. What we haven’t had at this football club since I’ve been here is much luck. 

“We haven’t had much luck. We haven’t had much luck with injuries and we haven’t had much luck in front of goal. 

“We haven’t had a huge amount of luck in general. 

“But the one thing the players are doing is working hard and making sure that they will get the bounce of the ball. It will happen. It will drop. 

“Tuesday was an anomaly in terms of the individual errors. The result occurred because of errors people made. You have to accept that. 

“But nobody can no effect what happened on Tuesday. The only thing we can do now is to try and positively affect the performance on Saturday. 

“Last time we played at home we got a performance – a really good performance against Charlton. 

“The challenge now is to replicate and go beyond that and get a result. 

“It has to be that simple. The players have set the tone with their last performance at home. 

What’s important for them now is to go and reproduce that against Charlton.” 

On morale in the group: 

It’s good. There is disappointment because we have lost a game of football. That is human nature. 

“Every time you go onto a football pitch you want to win. Why? Because all the players here – and all the staff – are competitive. 

“We want to win. Are we going to win every week? No. 

We’re disappointed in the way we lost the game on Tuesday night.  

“But you have to understand emotion plays a huge part in performances. At the moment we are getting into some wonderful areas but maybe making the wrong decision or maybe snatching. 

“That is perfectly normal. It is understandable. But the one thing I can never question is the desire of the players. 

“Training today was really good. Physically the players have had a good hit today – those that have needed it. 

“Others have managed – it’s a second day of recovery – but it’s also two days before our next game. 

“The only thing that matters now is this Saturday. We will prepare well. We will have a good session tomorrow. 

“We will make sure the players have that last little bit of information they need from us. And then they have got to go and perform.” 

On sticking to a process:

"It is a difficult one because in this job you are purely and simply judged by results.
 
"What we have done is we have tweaked certain things. But when I talk about the process, the process is what we do here and how we interact with the players.
 
"If all of a sudden you decide to throw your plan out of the window people start questioning and the players start questioning.
 
"Apart from scoring goals, we have actually been really, really, good.
 
"Defensively, a lot of our stats are at the top of the league. That is a fact.
 
"That is not me telling you something that is not true. What do we need to be better at? We need to be better in front of goal.
 
"I do not think it comes down to one individual it comes down to a whole team.
 
"I will say it again the players are desperate to succeed. There is nothing that I am more certain of.
 
"I get asked the same questions week in and week out. Why? Because we are not scoring goals and we are not winning games.
 
"If I was sat here and we were getting blown away by teams and we were not creating chances then it would be different.
 
"In the last three games alone we have created 40 chances, we have hit the target 19 times. Something has to change and something will drop for us, I have no concerns whatsoever."
 
On the players trying too hard to score:
 
"A lot of the time when we talk about this, I talk about it with you guys (the press). About taking chances, and obviously that is going to be the way with the press because that is something we have not done.
 
"But with the players, it is really difficult to remove that pressure from them on the pitch.
 
"You have a certain window before the game, you have a certain window at half-time where you can influence their decisions but ultimately you have to trust the players to carry out their duties and do their job.
 
"I cannot ask any more from any player here other than to go and do their job.
 
"If they do that to the best of their ability, they are going to make mistakes. We all do it, that is human nature.

"But if you are not in a position to miss then I would be concerned, we are in a position to miss and now what we need to do is we need to score."

On Northampton: 

“Northampton have had two, really good, back-to-back results. 

“I know Jon (Brady) really well. I was pleased for him last season. For Northampton to be in League One is a really big deal. He’s a friend of mine and I’m pleased for him. 

“They are a really good team. They have some good players that performed well for him last year and they are doing so again. 

“They are a threat going forward. Are there areas we feel we can hurt them? Of course, there are. 

“But I’m sure he will feel exactly the same about us. 

“The one thing I do know is it will be a really tight game. And what we need to do is score first. 

“If we score first you will see a relief, not just with the players but with the fans and everyone in the stadium.  

“That is the challenge. It will be good to see Jon but you have to understand for us this is a big game of football – as every game is. 

“We need to do everything we possibly can to replicate the performance we had against Charlton. 

“And then when we do that – when those chances, when those moments when those big chances come – we have to take them. 

“I can’t keep sitting here talking about it. That is the reality of the situation of where we are at the moment – one needs to go in the back of the net. 

“And then when one does it will be two, three, four. I have no doubt about that.” 

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