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Matt Taylor – The first interview

Updated: May 18

New First-Team Manager Matt Taylor has vowed to give the fans a team to be proud of, build on the fine work of his predecessors and create a fun and collaborative environment.

Taylor, 42, was announced as the club's new gaffer last week after signing a 2 year contract, and he was at The Vale this afternoon (Friday) to meet some of his backroom staff, to meet with the board and check on the significant improvements to the playing surface.

The former Luton, West Ham, Portsmouth and Burnley left-sided player held more discussions with Chairman Rory Fitzgerald about the plans for next season – and said it was an initial three-and-a-half hour meeting with the Chairman that convinced him to resume his coaching career and step outside the EFL for the first time.

"It came little bit of the blue," said Taylor. "I was impressed with his thoughts about the football club, the ambition he has and what he wants to try and implement. You want to work with good people, people who share the same values. That's really important to me. I listened to how passionate he is about the club and where he wants to take it. 

"It's a really exciting project. I'm under no illusions that I've got to win games but this club has a certain way of operating and that interests me. I'll bring my knowledge and experience to help.

"On meeting Rory, meeting the people who work here it just has an unbelievable feeling. It was then an easy decision to make. It's a new challenge and one I wasn't really expecting but I'm really excited. The most important thing about a football club is the people and the Chairman, the Board, the football staff and the ground staff, you can see everyone is pulling together and want to go in the right direction and change the way they approach things. There are really good people here."

On taking on the challenge...

"It's been well documented that we will still be a part-time club but we'll be running more of a hybrid model. That really interests and excites me as I've now got the opportunity to come in and shape what that looks like. The club has done exceptionally well to stay in the league in the last five years – and most of the time do more than simply stay in the league. We have to make sure that's the minimum requirement for next season and then be as competitive as possible after that. We are going to get extra contact time with the players and I'm really looking forward to it. It will be a tough season but every season is tough. They never go the way you want, always topsy turvy and full of ups and downs, but we've got a good chance to be successful here. It will be good fun."

His knowledge of the club...

"I did a deep dive off into the club on and off the pitch. The one thing I would say is that this football club is stable, they have a specific way they play and they enjoy keeping the football. The quality of the loans the club attracts is very impressive. It's nice this club flies under the radar, I quite like that. We will go about our business quietly and that will just continue to build on the impressive foundations that have been laid here. This football club is unique and the fans are extremely loyal. My job is to continue giving them a team they can be proud of."

His coaching philosophy...

"A lot is made about styles but I want the team to continue to play football. That aligns with how I want to play. You've got to empower players to make mistakes. Players even make mistakes in the Premier League. It's about building a cohesive unit that will go out and execute any instruction on the day. We've got a clear identity of how we want to play and how that looks. My style is to be open and honest with people. I know that goes a long way in football."

The importance of new signings...

"We've had long recruitment meetings. We have to get that right as we are down on players numbers wise. We are on a massive recruitment drive here to complement the very good core we already have. We need to get the players in the building we are after. But those players will be good players and that means others club will be after them too. It's my job to recruit players who fit in with us. I'll be leaning on my contacts to get loans and permanent players in the building. I've already spent a lot of time speaking to people, speaking to players, speaking to managers and speaking to clubs. Clubs are willing to send their players here because of the name this football club has. People respect the way we do things and they are willing to send their young players here as they know we will develop them."

On managing in the National League...

"I don't know if you need a different skillset is the honest answer, but [my No. 2] Paul Hughes has managed 500 games in non league so he has huge experience of what managing in non league looks like. I've watched the National League and it's not the archetypal National League or Conference league it used to be. It's very technical, very tactical and there are some really good players and coaches in this league. It will be tough but I'm excited by the challenge, the prospect of going into nearly every game as the underdog. We have to get this place rocking and entertain while winning games. I've heard about the amount of late goals we score here and that's because of the fans willing it in. We are going to need that again."

The role of No.2, Paul Hughes...

"I played with Hughesy at Luton and we've always kept in contact. He was a central midfield dynamo and I was 19 or 20 and running up and down the left. We got promoted under the late Joe Kinnear and they were great times. Hughesy has gone on to be really successful in business but he has a burning passion for the game that has led to him managing so many non league games. I'm excited to have him alongside me and I'll be leaning heavily on his experience and knowledge of non league."

The learnings from playing under Redknapp, Allardyce, Megson, Kinnear and Coyle...

"There were managers I enjoyed playing for and managers I didn't. And you take away things from certain managers, not so much tactically and technically. More so the way they man manage. That's key this season as we will have seven subs. So then you've got seven players who won't be in the team. The skill trying to manage that is the main thing I have picked up from my playing career. But you've got to go out and find your own way and do it your way. I will be doing it my way and getting the best out of the group of players we have. That's what the skill of management is. But first and foremost the players will be giving everything for the shirt and the club."

  • Pictures by Sean Troup


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