Manager Preview: Matt Taylor on Cheltenham Town, positivity and injury update


Matt Taylor is relishing the challenge of facing his former side when Bristol Rovers travel to play Cheltenham Town on Saturday. 

Taylor spent the 2014/15 season on the books with the Robins as a player and is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces on his return to his old team for this weekend’s West Country derby. 

All pleasantries will be forgotten come kick-off though as both Rovers and Robins look for a big three points; with the Gas looking to end a frustrating winless run in Sky Bet League One and Cheltenham eager to pull away from the drop zone. 

Saturday’s fixture will therefore be an interesting prospect for both sets of fans, and the manager is keen for his side to show a positive performance, as he stressed during his pre-match media interview…


Injury Update

Elkan Baggott has got a chance of being back for Saturday’s game. He’s been back on the grass now for the last week or so and been exposed to a bit of team training, so he is back in contention. The only real pain he’s been getting during his rehab has been a bit in his calf when he’s jumping and, as a centre-back, you’ve got to jump! We need to make sure he comes through Friday okay and if he does then he’s in contention. 

The rest of the squad is similar to what it is. Harvey Vale has done a bit more after his illness. He’s in better shape than he was previously so it’s the same for him. As long as he doesn’t react to his exposure in team training then he could be involved.




Dealing with pressure

Pressure is pressure. Young players probably haven’t experienced it in the way more experienced professionals have, and people deal with it in different ways. Sometimes, the naivety of youth can be helpful. As a manager, your trust is naturally inclined to go with those who have been through difficult times before.

You have your trusted core of senior players at any stage of planning, and those are the ones you’d look to. That said, sometimes the younger players surprise you and you probably saw that with the Reading team on Tuesday. They had a youthful enthusiasm, and it’s always about getting the right balance. 

We know about difficult times in football. If you’ve been in football long enough, you know they come and go and you come through it in a stronger position. Our situation might be a little bit more unique as we get towards the end of the season. The second half of the season has been a challenge but we’re still positive as we head into the last four games. In those games, we need to keep our strength and give ourselves a chance from the start. 


Goalscoring efforts

Of course we’re talking about our lack of goals. We can’t hide from it and we have to face up to it. We can’t ignore the fact that we’re not putting the ball in the back of the net. We have created chances in the last two games and shown glimpses.

But confidence is a big factor, as is the pressure of the games. We’ve got to find a way of taking that pressure away. It’s easy to talk about and so, so difficult to do. It’s just not quite happening at the moment but we believe it will change.

I have to accept the criticism. I have full responsibility for the team’s form and I am the manager of this group of players, and any side issues are no excuse for our results and performances on the pitch. I think there is a whole lot more that this group is capable of. But it can take a bit of time to get what you really want out of a group. 




A positive outlook

Getting some positivity is everything. We have two-and-a-half weeks left in the season which is a long time in football, particularly when you have four games. Football is what we’re paid to do and you should never not look forward to a game of football. The day you don’t look forward to it is the day you step away from it.

We’re in such a privileged position in society to be doing something we love. So many kids grow up wanting to be footballers and so few make it, so even when it’s difficult you need to find solace and strength in that. 


Ready for the Robins

Cheltenham Town have been fighting so hard for a long period of time. They’re a highly motivated team and always will be under Darrell Clarke. We know who they are and I want to see who we are a bit more this weekend. That’s the bit I’m really looking forward to.

I’m looking forward to seeing some good people over there and seeing a good, positive game of football. We will need to stand up to certain elements of the game and manage our own emotions, and attack them too.

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