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Interviews

Pre Bristol Rovers | Matt Taylor

14 September 2023

Interviews

Pre Bristol Rovers | Matt Taylor

14 September 2023

Boss Matt Taylor met with the press ahead of our League One clash against Bristol Rovers.

Town enter the game on Saturday looking to make it three wins from our opening four matches at the Croud Meadow this season.

The match will be our first outing for 10 days after our fixture with Bolton was postponed over the international break.

Speaking to the press, Matt discussed what the players have been working on during their extended time on the training ground.

The boss also talked about how pleased he is with his striking options with Max Mata and Kieran Phillips now pushing Dan Udoh and Ryan Bowman for a starting spot.

And finally Matt chatted about facing a Bristol Rovers side managed by Joey Barton - with the two head coaches having been teammates at Burnley.

On what the squad has been working on during the international break: 

“The players have been in and they have been working really hard. 

“There are certain aspects I feel, especially after the Carlisle game, that we need to get better at. 

“We have made sure the players have had the right amount of time on the grass and the right amount of time in the gym. 

“But also we’ve made sure they’ve had enough opportunity to rest.  

“I think, in terms of mentality, the first six to eight weeks of the season has been tough for a lot of teams because there were a lot of games. 

“But what we have done this week in training is really gone over our principles and how important they are both in possession and out of possession. 

“The players were in last weekend. It was a tough period for them. But I think now we will start to see the benefits of it. 

“It’s been a week where we have a lot of time in the classroom and a lot of time on the grass. 

“That contact time refreshing the players has been really important. It's been a positive 10 days. 

“Obviously we could have liked to have had a game last weekend but we didn’t, so instead we made sure the players got their exposure to 11vs11 during the period we’ve got them for training.” 

On what goes on in the classroom: 

“It’s working on those key principles, the key fundamentals for us. 

“How we feel, playing against any team in this league, that we can impose our way of playing on them both in and out of possession. 

“It’s key that the players understand what we are talking about. They understand their roles and responsibilities – and they do. 

“There has to be an opportunity for them to have a voice. That voice is always respectful whilst we as coaches and myself as the head coach ultimately have the final say. 

“We have had some really interesting conversations around opposition from us as coaches with the players not there. 

“We know that the next game is going to be a really difficult one against a very good team. 

“It’s another good test for us, one I feel we need to perform in. We need to try and pick up a result We are under no qualms about that. 

“Our home form this season, we have won two games and lost one so we want to get back to winning ways and the time we have had at the training ground will be invaluable to helping us do that.” 

On becoming more consistent: 

“I think that’s always going to be the question that’s asked. 

“We’ve had a lot of conversations – the coaches – about that consistency. We have altered the training schedule slightly to make sure we give ourselves a better chance of not conceding the goals we have done. 

“We have made sure we looked at ourselves first rather than the opposition. 

“Every goal you concede is avoidable – that's a fact. 

‘Every goal you score, you will think it is brilliant while the opposition will feel they could have done better to stop it. 

“For us, consistency is the key word. What I don’t want is a season where we win then we lose, then we win then we lose.  

“It’s important we gain that level of consistency in our performances. Where does that come from? It comes from the training pitch. 

“We are consistent in our messages to players. The challenge to them is to perform when they are allowed to do so.” 

On the injured players: 

“We are still in the same position as we were in terms of the three longer-term injuries. 

“Elliot Thorpe is back in the building on Monday, he is waiting for his last scan. 

“Jordan Shipley is doing well. He is working hard at the moment in the gym with George Nurse. 

“I think they are complaining slightly that their upper bodies are hurting a bit because they are working hard those two. 

“But it’s great to see the players who are injured really giving everything they have got in their rehabilitation process. 

“We are in a positive place at the moment, the squad is looking healthy and based on training today competition is high. 

“It’s now down to the players that are selected at the weekend to put a performance in that is worthy of gaining a positive result.” 

On now having four strikers available: 

“We always wanted to have at least four strikers in the building – especially now with extended games. 

“What we have attempted to do is get those four players to a point where they are all ready to play if required and to start games. 

“Competition is fierce within that part of the squad. 

“If you look at Dan and Ryan, they have started nearly every game. That’s because we didn’t have the opportunity to look at other options. We have now. 

“I think competition in the squad is really good, I’m really pleased with where we are at.  

“It’s now up to the players that are out of the team to really push the players that are in the team and make sure that it becomes really difficult for me to pick a team. 

“You want players who show you just how hungry they are. 

“We have got that here. Competition is tough. It’s becoming harder to pick a team.  

“And now it’s up to me and the coaches to make sure we select the best team based on how the players have trained and the opposition we are facing.” 

On Bristol Rovers and facing his former teammate Joey Barton: 

“It will be a difficult game, they are a very good football team and he (Barton) has got an exceptional squad. 

“He has got lots of options both in attacking areas and in defence. 

“They like to play through the thirds. Joe was a teammate of mine when we won the Championship with Burnley. 

“It will be good to see him and good to catch up with him afterward. But my focus is on us.  

“Joey is at a stage in his career where he is experienced. Bristol Rovers are the second club he has managed and it’s good to see a former teammate do well. 

“Hopefully we can make sure we put in a performance so that at the end of the game, when we shake hands, we are having a conversation in a positive light. 

“It’s good to see players you have played with doing well. Joe is now an experienced manager with the amount of games he’s seen through. 

“It will be a tough game for us. Joey’s team will replicate him as a person and having played with him I know exactly what that is. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing him but first and foremost we want the points.” 

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