Every word Matt Taylor said on Wigan defeat, Bristol Rovers' season and upcoming summer plans

Bristol Rovers manager Matt Taylor watches on from the touchline at Wigan Athletic -Credit:Paul Greenwood/EFL
Bristol Rovers manager Matt Taylor watches on from the touchline at Wigan Athletic -Credit:Paul Greenwood/EFL

Matt, a disappointing end to the season.

I don’t think we started the game well enough with enough intent and intensity, enough sprints in us and paid the price in terms of being one down. We grew into the game as that first half went on and then early in the second half a poor moment from ourselves and then the game’s over at 2-0.

Like I’ve said leading up to this game and the last game, I don’t want that to be just a reflection of the group of players who were out there because we’re double figures down of senior players and some of those players are important players in important positions. We’re clearly lacking in certain areas.

Sometimes teams score goals against you and there’s not much you can do but you look at those today and they’re not great are they?

Yes. Whether we’re switching off or not being quite right and not staying engaged in our jobs for long enough. That’s probably happened too often this season. I think we’ve conceded the second-most goals in the league so that’s a damning statement but in terms of the other aspect we need to create and score more. We talk about not having centre-forwards but we still need to get the ball through the thirds and in around the box and near the opposition goal.

Yeah because you created some nice little moments in that first half but you never looked to have the key at the end of it.

Everyone’s coming towards the ball and there’s no one waiting for a tap in or be in the box or get on the end of a cross. With no one quite like that on the pitch, you probably turn down crossing or driving opportunities and then you end up forcing the last action of an attacking moment and it broke down too many times.

We played in front of them far too much but that’s unfortunately where we are at the moment with the group that we’ve got.

Scott Sinclair had Bristol Rovers' best chance against Wigan Athletic -Credit:Paul Greenwood/EFL
Scott Sinclair had Bristol Rovers' best chance against Wigan Athletic -Credit:Paul Greenwood/EFL

A lot of decisions to make, would you envisage it being a very busy summer?

I think everyone knows that it’s going to be a busy summer. I think it was always going to be regardless of whoever was in charge or what the situation was because we’ve got six loans to go back straight away. Obviously there’s eight players out of contract so straight away, even before anything else happens, that’s a big turnaround and in terms of obviously replacements, you need bodies in the building.

We’re looking forward to getting towards working in relation to that. It’s so strange at this time of year because everything seems to go to sleep for the next three or four weeks, possibly the whole of May. But we want to get as many through the door as early as possible because we know how important pre-season is going to be in terms of bedding them in.

It’s not all about defenders but defensively you need to get a group together that will be more resilient than it has been this year.

Yes, and consistent as well. Not just in the defensive ranks but across the board in terms of every position, every unit on that football pitch. Very rarely have we been able to have the same groups of players to choose from and then that obviously drives competition.

There’s been an inconsistency and now is an exact example of where we’ve been too often this season and the extreme of having 10 to 12 out at the moment, we’ve always had a high number and I think that was possibly before my time as well.

We’ll look into that but obviously in terms of where we want to get this group to in terms of availability and consistency from back to front that’s so important.

Injuries have really hurt you as a team this season, is that something you can look at over the summer and try and assess?

We can try. We can get them physically stronger in pre-season which is important for any player but what we’ve picked up this season is incredible and a lot of it has been game-related. So I feel we’re going to have to train them a little bit harder, maybe for less time, but train them harder and more intense because the game never lies in relation to that.

But also, this is not a criticism of previous recruitment, we’ve had a lot of bodies that have broken and probably not played enough games in the previous seasons going into this season so there’s been a recurring theme in relation to that so anyone we do sign has almost got to have a track record of being available and being more robust.

But then I do think we’ve also been quite unlucky with a few. It’s been surreal what’s come up on a daily and weekly basis.

I guess it’s a few days of sorting out what it’s going to look like next season and then is it literally trying to bring bodies in as soon as possible?

Yeah. The players know. I’ve tried to be honest with them from day one. They’ve probably known for a little while and this week I’ve had conversations player-wise. We’ll do the same staff-wise at the start of the week and we’ll give our retained list on Tuesday afternoon. I suppose that’s always the big news that comes out at the end of any season.

But then in terms of the recruitment aspect, ever since George [Friend] and Chris [Spendlove] and Adam [Mahoney] have been in their roles that’s been working on behind the scenes and that won’t stop and that will accelerate a little bit and then you’re just waiting on the first moment of a signature on a contract and that’s what we look forward to.

Was it always the plan to get Kofi [Shaw] on the pitch or was it just a case of seeing how the game went?

No, we wanted him on the pitch. We felt it was a good opportunity to get him on the pitch and get him some minutes. Young players are incredible. They need the strength and the glue of the senior ones. Imagine if he’d come on the pitch at a different scoreline, at a different state in the game and Chris Martin ahead of him.

It would have been a lot easier for him and a lot more enjoyable debut for him than what that was but in terms of getting on the pitch at least he’s sampled it and being in and amongst this environment and this atmosphere and being up against the opposition team so that’s a really good starting point for him. We want more young ones to come through, even Jed [Ward] making those saves towards the end and unfortunately taking quite a heavy knock on his knee, that youth side of it is starting to show strongly and that’s got to be the foundation of the football club for a long period of time.

Kofi Shaw made his senior Bristol Rovers debut with an 11 minute cameo against Wigan Athletic -Credit:Paul Greenwood/EFL
Kofi Shaw made his senior Bristol Rovers debut with an 11 minute cameo against Wigan Athletic -Credit:Paul Greenwood/EFL

It may be a bit of a loaded question 20 minutes after the season finishing but the team’s finished 15th, how do you reflect on the season? Is that a fair reflection?

It's where we are in the league. We feel we've lost so many points out there and certainly in that middle section in games where...they were the better team today, I need to say that. They were better than us today. There were so many times where we felt we were more than in the game and in a good position in the game and then behind again, chasing again and then losing again.

So in that middle section, probably through the winter months, we feel that we've left behind an awful lot of points and then the gap's been too big and then when the gap has been too big we've known where we've been and I suppose it's accelerated where we are right now in terms of the end of the cycle which I've spoken about and I think the players have known that for a long time.

It's where we are. It's a slight improvement on last season but we've got to make sure that there's a bigger improvement at the end of next season.

Too many games like today?

Yeah but I thought they were better than us today, I have to be honest in relation to that. I thought they attacked and defended better than us, I thought they were collectively better than we were today but that's not a fair enough reflection of what's been previous. This is a one off game where we've got a certain amount of players and a certain group out on the pitch.

Those middle months where we can speak about availability but we should still have been strong and really grinded out results and pushing through the league. Those are the ones, and there are several games that you can look back on, where those are missed opportunities in terms of points and then all of a sudden you're probably nine or 10 points closer to it and then it makes the end of the season a lot more exciting than it has been.

What’s your message to supporters ahead of the summer?

They have to understand that this is a big turnaround and that's not on myself as manager. I think this group of players and this squad has probably come to the end of, I use that word, that cycle. We've got six loans, that's a big number, who are guaranteed to go back as much as we'd like some of those to come back to us and eight out of contract.

We've got to get value on the pitch, I think that's my message to supporters in terms of whatever we do spend money wise or wages wise or fee wise, the fans have got to see that on the pitch and see then the pitch contribution in terms of goals, clean sheets and ultimately points. Performances underline that as always.

They'll need to be patient because I'd love to say we'll have everything out and everything in by day one of pre-season but that never happens in football. It will go right down to the end of this coming window, I guarantee the middle of the season window and possibly next season. It will take a little while but I'm pretty strong in my head in, not where I want to take the team, but the profile of the kind of players and people I want to bring into this football club.

I'm excited but, as with everything, things will just die down a little bit now and people will ask why's no work being done, there's been so much work going on behind the scenes and hopefully when they see we're signing some players they can start to get excited like all supporters do in terms of what we can achieve next season. But next season the league will be incredibly strong, stronger than this season, financially a lot stronger and we'll probably just move down the pecking order in terms of where we start.

I guess there’s the emphasis on the need for patience?

Yes. But signings are signings and the moment they're here, they're our players, and as much as we want the team to gel and gel quickly because we need to pick up results at the start of next season, fans are never patient. I'm a football fan and I'm not patient. They want to see progress and they'll be disappointed with the way this season has finished, especially with the expectation at the start and the build up in relation to that.

But so many teams in that second season struggle more than what Bristol Rovers have this season. It's traditionally a brute of a season in terms of your second season where teams get relegated and I know teams with a similar budget to ourselves, an exact same budget, have been relegated. More than one. That shows you how difficult it is so, as much as we're disappointed with the season, we're still in the league and we've got a really good opportunity to grow into it next season.