'The beast which is Bristol Rovers' - Matt Taylor warns rest of League One in first words as new manager
Bristol Rovers new manager Matt Taylor has spoken for the first time since being appointed as first-team boss. The 41-year old brings a wealth of experience having previously managed Rotherham United and Exeter City, where he steered the south-west club to promotion to League One in the 2021/22 season.
Taylor believes that the club's aim must be to replicate what their arch-rivals Bristol City have done, and reach the Championship for the first time in the club's history. "Then you add that on top of what is the beast, which is Bristol Rovers. You know, without talking at length about the neighbours, they've shown what is achievable for football clubs in Bristol and traditionally, historically, Bristol Rovers is as big a club as you get in this city." The former Millers boss has heavy links to this region, despite his Lancastrian roots, as he had a successful playing career in the west country at Exeter, Bath City and Cheltenham Town, before making the switch to coaching. "I suppose not having derbies against them, but having south-west fixtures against them at Exeter and playing in those, let alone managing and coaching in those, gives you a little bit of a feel for what the club is about and when the good times are here there's nowhere better to be, and that certainly excites me," said Taylor. "Obviously working at Championship level, I've not had too much time or opportunity to see too much of League One football, but I've got an affiliation with a few members of the squad. I've played against enough of them to know they're good players. Where we are in the league at the moment is literally in the middle of the table. We're about seven, eight points away from relegation, nine points away from the play-offs. But there is a feeling there that we can hopefully get a little bit more out of them and start producing winning football, as opposed to just good looking football some of the time, but not getting the end out of it."
Three weeks ago, Taylor was still at the helm at Rotherham and it just goes to show that a lot can change in football in a small amount of time. "The phone rang and there was a conversation to be had with Bristol Rovers, a club I know enough about to interest me. I was pleased to have that conversation and then obviously it's progressed to further conversations, a couple of interviews over Zoom which are difficult when people are here there and everywhere.
"Then on Wednesday there was a face-to-face meeting with the board and the hierarchy of the club and that's obviously progressed to where we are right now. I had a fantastic couple of weeks with the family, the little man, the wife, who's eight months pregnant but she knows what I'm about. I can't be away from football for too long. Also understanding that you don't know what the next opportunity will look like. But when this one was apparent and put in front of us, we certainly felt excited about what potential we could achieve here," said Taylor.