'This group can be successful' - Matt Taylor's valiant call ahead of Bristol Rovers' 'fantastic' festive schedule

Matt Taylor. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)Matt Taylor. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
Matt Taylor. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe) | Getty Images
Matt Taylor previews Bristol Rovers tough schedule with firstly a trip to Bolton Wanderers this weekend in League One.

Bristol Rovers' new boss Matt Taylor believes his group of players "can be successful" ahead of what on paper seems to be an extremely tough run of games coming up over the Christmas period.

The former Rothertham United manager certainly wasn't dismissing the fact that his side must be almost faultless if the Gas are going to pick up any points in the coming weeks. "Regardless of systems and personnel within it, if the ethic is right and the intent is right which I felt it was for the large part on Tuesday, I'm sure this group can be successful."

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After success in midweek in the FA Cup at Crewe Alexandra, attention turns to Saturday with a tough fixture away at Bolton Wanderers in League One. "We would like to perform how we performed on Tuesday, but this is a different game this weekend," said the 41-year old. "Different opposition, different personnel, a different level of team we are up against. The FA Cup victory has brought a couple of new injury concerns that the gaffer will now have to look at ahead of Saturday. "You're assessing everything as a manager and you don't want to chop and change, that's not what I'm about as a manager. But you do want to strive for consistency, but sometimes you have to react to what's available and what's in front of you, including your own team and the opposition. So we've got to make sensible decisions in the next 24 hours but I did like the way the team functioned on Tuesday."

Taylor is relishing the challenges against Bolton, Blackpool and Portsmouth. "These are the games you want to play, three of the best teams in the league, teams with either history of higher levels or ambitions of higher levels, or having been at higher levels recently and are challenging at the right end of the table in this current climate. So, fantastic games of football, all good places to play football." The former Exeter City boss was quizzed on whether he feels his side are capable of promotion this season, with the Gas currently sitting 13th in the league table. "If we want be serious about challenging towards the top half of the table, this will be the test and this will be where we find out a little bit more in terms of where we can pick up points against some of the best teams in the league.

"Whether that's Bolton this weekend or Blackpool next week or even the home game on Boxing Day against some of the best players this league has got to offer. We need to be at our best if we're going to get anything from any of these games over this Christmas period. Everyone can talk about it but we have got to make it real, you make it real by competing and picking up points, something we probably have not done enough of to date so far this season. We have kind of been in that mid-range block at the moment, we've almost got to break that next level and get in that group who are really challenging and that is ultimately the top-half and then the top 10 and then if you have got a chance of being in the top 10, you have got a chance of pushing for play-offs, so it’s small steps, it’s little moments, but it’s these moments where you have got to pick up points."

Taylor has the utmost respect for Bolton boss Ian Evatt and is fully aware of the brilliant job the 42-year old is doing at present. "They've been together for a period of time in terms of the style of play, certainly the shape and the system and they have got outstanding personnel obviously outstanding personnel. So they've recruited really well and probably recruited for the way they play and anyone who watched the game on Monday probably saw that the best early chances of the game went to Bolton and then it would be a totally different evening and so they'll be a little bit frustrated because they performed relatively well in that good game on Monday night and they've been in fantastic form."

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The Rovers changing room believe that promotion is a very realistic aim this campaign, but Taylor has acknowledged that his squad must show application if they are to be in with a sniff. "We've got to be talking about ourselves as much as understanding and taking full account of what we're up against, we've given full respect and congratulate them on their job they've been doing and their players involved in that, but we've also got to go there with the belief that we are good enough, but we've got to show it. It’s all good Jevani Brown talking about promotion, but we have got to play to a certain level in terms of individual capacity and as a group to say we're serious about that."

Taylor has a clear message to fans ahead of the busy fixture schedule and emphasises the importance of the Gashead faithful. "We know how much contribution it is to the football club and to this group of players and how much we appreciate it but we need it, we need it more than ever and especially when you go to the bigger clubs and the bigger stadiums, it's moments like this where the fans really stand up and are accounted. We might be outnumbered in terms of home fans that's a natural thing when you go away from home but certainly not in terms of the voice and the support they give the players.

"Like I said I just hope that we can repay that and give them something to keep on believing. I think they appreciate seeing goals and goals in a certain manner like on Tuesday but I’m sure they also appreciate the effort that lads put in and that's certainly something which I’m hoping on achieving and getting the team out there which represents the fans."

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