'In the north of England you have to be tough' - Matt Taylor ahead of Bristol Rovers' 'incredible fixture' at Blackpool

Bristol Rovers boss Matt Taylor previews the Gas' trip to Blackpool in League One as the northerner heads back to Lancashire.
Matt Taylor: Bristol Rovers' new manager Matt Taylor: Bristol Rovers' new manager
Matt Taylor: Bristol Rovers' new manager

Blackpool welcome Bristol Rovers to Bloomfield Road this weekend in a busy schedule Matt Taylor admits is "incredible".

The Gas will be looking to secure back-to-back wins for the first team in League One this season. "In the north of England you have to be tough," said Taylor. "Blackpool play good football, they probably play a slightly different dynamic to Bolton and they can mix their game up a little bit more and they might be a little bit more direct in terms of certainly making your back line defend. Whether that be longer balls or crosses but there's some serious talent out there but as always I want to be talking about what we produce and and how we negate their stronger points and get a foothold in the game ourselves."

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The trip to the northwest will be the second in as many weeks as Taylor's side hit the busy festive football period. "The rest of the world enjoys Christmas to a certain degree, but they probably enjoy watching football as well as it's part of the festive period. Anyone who's got any affiliation or association with football in any way knows that the Boxing Day games and the New Year's Day games and the games in between are so, so important and they are all family affairs and we're in a privileged position that we're actually on show and we get to play the biggest part of it, because we're out there playing or coaching or managing."

Saturday's hosts sit eight in the division, just four point off the play-off places and the 41-year old is fully aware of the test that will be brought to them in Lancashire. "I like the way they set up as a team, interestingly we are preparing for not similar shapes or similar systems but not too dissimilar to Bolton. They had success in terms of Championship and back down again, so know how to get out of the league and also on the pitch it's pretty obvious they've got strength in depth and the players on the pitch are of a certain caliber who have played a certain level before and have had huge success."

The former Rothertham United gaffer believes his team will relish the opportunity against Neil Critchley's side and further down the festive schedule. "From a manager’s point of view it's an opportunity to pick up points and in a short period of time, its game, game, game so there's a lot of points to play for, lots to really go at and our fixtures are incredible fixtures, we're playing some serious teams so I can't wait to see another away performance and what that looks like and then getting back to a couple of massive games at home."

The Gas have performed considerably better in their last two matches and Taylor believes this is down to a culmination of factors. "That comes from the results, it comes from performances, I think it just comes from the way they've worked. Messages that I've tried to put forward and to reiterate and to reinforce the strength is just the value of it, they should see the value of it because obviously the performances and the wins, but also the goals and how structured we've been as a team and that's got to be our start and our end point so hopefully that continues this weekend and over Christmas."

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With games coming thick and fast the northerner has hinted that changes will be made and the squad will be stretched and utilised to its full capacity. "There will be changes because no one can play that amount of games in that quick turnaround," said Taylor. "It's just physically impossible even more so as we're asking them to go above and beyond what they've done previously physically, so I imagine that team will change from Saturday to two days later on Boxing Day and then the 29th and then New Year's Day so this will be a good time for me not to assess the squad because I'm passed the assessing stage, but to see what we've got and to see our depth.

"I mentioned before about Blackpool, they changed the whole team bar two on Tuesday and convincingly getting through the FA Cup, that's a big game for them, it shows the strength in depth they have. We hopefully are the same, it looks like we're the same from the outside but the proof will be in the pudding in terms of our points return over Christmas."

Despite the recent run of good form, the former Exeter City player believes there's even more potential than can be unlocked from players and the squad as a whole. "I think some are capable of more to be honest with you I really do I think some are capable of a lot more and as much as I was excited about the opportunity when I came in, I am probably a little bit more excited now because I've seen it firsthand, but that's not an individual aspect I think that's collectively we're capable of producing more and more consistency within it.

"We're not changing the mantra in any way, but we expect to go and compete and hopefully bringing back some sort of points return and we were so strong in our mindset at Bolton and you have to be so strong in your mindset when you go away from home but also you got to back up performances."

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