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Extended Interview: Matty Taylor

In an exclusive interview with City’s matchday programme WellRed, Matty Taylor has explained exactly why he chose to become the first player for 30 years to swap Rovers blue for City red.

Here’s what Matty had to say…
Was it your goal at Leeds?
Yes! Milan (Djuric) has nodded it down and I’ve touched it – it’s not a massive touch but I’ve touched it and I want it. I don’t like goals being taken off me. I had one in the Conference when a lad had a shot, it hit me and completely changed direction to go into the other corner and I still didn’t get it! I’m hoping in the Championship they have a few more angles and that doesn’t happen again.
If it is yours, that’s two goals in two games. How pleased are you with the start to your Bristol City career?
I really enjoyed the game at Derby and couldn’t have wished for a better full debut – apart from the shocking miss. Obviously that gets talked about for the wrong reasons, but it was 3-1 at the time and we still should’ve closed out the game and won it. Had that been the case, it probably would’ve been brushed under the carpet a bit more. But I hold my hands up; it was a bad miss.
How much does it play on your mind when a big chance like that gets away?
It’s part of the job – you won’t find a striker anywhere who scores every chance. Strikers are probably under the most pressure to do the business and I’m no different here. I’m going to miss chances, but I’m big enough and ugly enough to deal with that.
Do you need more self-belief to be a striker compared to other positions?
I could miss five chances in one game, but if it stays 0-0 and then I score the winner, I’m still the hero. It’s a funny game really, but yes it does take a certain level of self-belief and mental strength to put the ones you miss to one side. When a game is over, I’ll look back and analyse them – even on tougher chances I’ll be thinking about what I could’ve done better. That’s just what I’m like. I wish I could score every time, but unfortunately that can’t happen.
Let’s talk about the move. How has your life changed over the past three weeks?
It hasn’t really. I’m just playing in the Championship instead of League One. I’m playing against better players and bigger clubs in bigger stadiums. I played at Derby the other day and there were 28,000 there – bar Wembley and Stamford Bridge, that’s the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of in my career. Elland Road was another amazing stadium and Leeds are probably in the top eight clubs in England – including the Premier League, in my opinion. Then there’s St James’ Park and Villa Park just around the corner, so I’m buzzing to be playing at these grounds. It’s something I’ll look back on once I’ve retired and be over the moon with. In terms of my life and my daily routine, it hasn’t changed.
You became the first player for 30 years to move from Bristol Rovers to Bristol City. Is that something you were aware of at the time?
No, I didn’t know that until the deal was announced. Obviously I hadn’t heard of it happening recently, but I would’ve only known as far back as the last five years max. It’s a long time and I know not many people do it. I took a whole day to weigh it up, but I didn’t have too much time with the deadline approaching. I’m glad I’ve done it and I had a smile on my face as soon as I first walked through the door.
When did you become aware of City’s interest?
It wasn’t all on the final day – despite what a lot of Rovers fans probably think. I knew on Sunday morning and the deadline was Tuesday night, so both parties knew about it for three full days. From my point of view, all that mattered was my transfer here – I didn’t worry about what other deals were happening because that’s none of my business.
You would’ve known how the Rovers fans were going to react. Has anything surprised you in that respect?
I knew social media would blow up. It blows up over the smallest things these days and I’m not stupid enough to think it’s not a big deal. City fans love their club and Rovers fans love their club. The rivalry is quite fierce and it’s probably the banter between the two sets of supporters that hurts them the most. They think they’re getting one over on them by stealing their top goalscorer, but for me it’s purely business. It’s my footballing career that matters to me and my family, and it was one hundred per cent the right decision for me. Now I’m just hoping we can get a few more wins to stay in this division and progress in years to come.
As a rough percentage, how many players in your position would’ve done what you did?
My honest opinion is 99 per cent. Take away the emotion, which as players we have to do. We go out there on a Saturday, play our game and try to get the three points, but then we go home. It’s the fans who sing the songs and love the passion of it and the history of the clubs. I’ve come from non-league to the Championship in two and a half years. It’s the next progression for me. I’ve seen countless other people make similar steps, but not necessarily the same route – some with bigger jumps. Sometimes you have to make these big decisions, and, as I’ve said before, I’m big enough, ugly enough and mentally tough enough to take it in my stride. I just want to score as many goals as I can for City now and see where my career takes me.
Were you ever concerned about the way the Bristol City fans would react to you?
That’s a good question. Possibly. I spoke to a few people regarding it all, as you do – people who would know my situation quite well. If I didn’t score for the first ten games here I knew I could be a target, but I’ve got two goals early on which probably puts that to bed. Everything I’ve heard from City fans has been positive, which is great, and when I signed they gave me a great reception on the pitch. I was delighted with that.
Were you nervous about being introduced to the crowd?
Maybe the tiniest amount, but not really. All the off-field stuff – getting the t’s crossed and the dots signed – was frustrating, because the minute I wanted it to happen and knew it was going to happen, I just wanted to get on that pitch as soon as possible. I wanted to play in that game against Sheffield Wednesday, but I wasn’t registered in time. As players you just want your feet to do the talking and ignore everything that’s in the papers and all over social media. Everything else is irrelevant.
Was it a big relief to get off the mark against Derby?
Yes, it was. But mainly just because I want to score as many goals as I can. The first goal is always more of a mental block because you’re so desperate to do well and as a striker you’re judged on goals. You want to get that first one out of the way as soon as you can and hope they flow from there.
After a goal and two assists on your first start, how did you feel to be left on the bench against Leeds?
I was obviously disappointed, but I’d spoken to the gaffer on the Friday. He told me I was playing against Derby, but with all the games coming up he would probably change it for the Leeds game and that Tommo (Lee Tomlin) would suit it. So I already knew he was thinking of doing it, but I was still disappointed when it was confirmed because I hoped I’d changed his mind. It’s irrelevant really – I know I’ll play games between now and the end of the season, so I’ve just got to stay positive. It’s like missing a chance all over again! He’s going to rotate the team how he sees fit and I’ve just got to be ready when called upon.
How have you found the Championship so far? The step up doesn’t seem to have fazed you…
I’m loving it. It’s definitely a step up, but I think the way the teams play suits me better. The pitches are better and there’s a lot more ball played on the floor, which is good for me. It’s the biggest jump I’ve had so far, but, without jinxing myself, I’ve settled in straightaway. I’m enjoying my football and long may that continue.
Do you believe you can score goals at any level?
Strikers need service. People might’ve thought coming to a team near the bottom of the league made it a strange move, but the gaffer showed me the stats and we’ve had the most shots in the league out of everyone. When he told me that, my eyes lit up. I’ve got two already and I’ve only started one game, so I’m delighted with that. I feel this team will create chances and I’m not the only new lad, so when we all learn more about each other’s games, we can create even more. I can score different types of goals, so yes, I will always back myself.
Are there certain things about goalscoring that never change, regardless of what league you’re playing in? The two goals you’ve scored so far, for example, have just been about knowing where to be and when to be there…
It’s just a natural instinct. I started playing when I was seven and I’ve been scoring goals ever since. I know you concentrate on having fun when you’re a kid, whereas the more you grow up the more it becomes about winning games and performance. I do seem to get myself into scoring positions, but that’s when you rely on your team-mates to give you the bullets.
When you win a game but you miss a chance and you don’t score, are you annoyed?
I’m buzzing that we’ve won because winning is the most important thing. Personal achievements come after that because you can’t be part of a successful team if you’re not winning games. After that, if I’ve missed a chance I’ll look back on it and be disappointed, but hopefully I’ll be the one scoring in the next game and it’s another win.
Some strikers are never happy when they don’t score, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing…
I’d like to score in every game and I’d like to win every game, but neither of those things are going to happen. It’s a team sport and you can only achieve things as a team. You need to be selfish at times, which goalscorers are, but you need to make the right decision of when to shoot and when to pass. That’s probably one of the hardest traits in any position – the decision making. I think you learn what the best decisions are as you get older. But I’d rather win every game and not score a goal because then we’d be in the Premier League!
You’ve already seen the good and the bad of Bristol City. What do you think the team are capable of between now and the end of the season?
I suppose I have, and I’ve heard things that had been going on before I was here to witness it. We’ve given away a lot of leads, but maybe that’s just been down to a bit of a lack of confidence. Everyone here is a very good player – we’ve got people who aren’t even in the squad who I’m looking at and thinking are amazing players! There are a lot good things here and all the ingredients are in place to be a top team, as they showed at the start of the season when they were in the play-offs. Sometimes you can get on these bad runs and it affects people in different ways, but it’s about how you react to it. We’ve got 15 games left and we’ve just got to win as many as we can, first and foremost. We’re not at the end of the table where we’d like to be, so we’ve got to get as far away from the bottom three as possible. If it goes all the way to the last few games then so be it – fingers crossed we can stay up, reassess over the summer and try to better it next year.
Matty Taylor was speaking to Mark Perrow for WellRed. To submit a question to our next feature interviewee, keep an eye out on Twitter @bcfctweets in the days leading up to every home game.