Taylor Made: Rovers Sign Speedy Winger
Doncaster Rovers pulled one out of the bag this afternoon by announcing the signing of former Rotherham winger Jon Taylor on a two-year deal. The news took us all by surprise, coming a day on from the closure of the transfer window for the top two tiers, with the focus of the club currently on tomorrow’s trip to Rochdale.
This acquisition represents the first real statement of intent from recently appointed manager Darren Moore as he looks to shape Rovers in his image. Although Taylor is the ninth new arrival at the club this summer, he is only the second permanent signing made by Moore since taking over, and the first signed with the clear intention of being played as a first team regular.
To get a better idea of what fans can expect from our new #10, ITEN spoke to Millers fan Josh Yeardley about the energetic Liverpudlian.
Pace to Burn
Described as a “fulminating, fizzing force” of a player in a glowing tribute by Paul Davis for the Rotherham Advertiser, Taylor adds one thing sorely lacking from the current Rovers attack: Pace. The speed of Mallik Wilks with the ball at his feet was a constant threat last season and replacing this has been a top priority for Darren Moore. Indeed, outside of likely fringe player Matty Blair and loanee Niall Ennis, it looks a rather pedestrian squad in this regard and so Taylor should transform our forward line immediately, something which Josh Yeardley, a lifelong Rotherham fan, agrees with.
“I'd definitely say his best attribute is his pace and I'm sure any Rotherham or Peterborough fan would agree with me,” he says, adding that Taylor “is an energetic attacking player who can play on either wing or behind the striker, like he did at Peterborough. He has plenty of pace and good stamina. He's not the strongest of players but he'll cause plenty of League One full-backs problems.”
In his tribute to the player, Paul Davis described how Taylor loves to push the ball and run after it, breezing past players with ease, and his colleague David Beddows said similar things when speaking to Sunderland’s Roker Report outlet in June. Beddows talked of Taylor’s “fantastic engine” and backed up that he is quick, direct, “tricky and persistent”, all attributes that will mark him out at Rovers. Of course, no player is perfect and Josh points out that “if (Taylor) had a footballing brain he certainly would be playing at a higher level,” but added that “maybe Moore is the manager to change that.”
A Pleasing Personality
“No-one at the club's training complex was more open or more friendly” than Taylor, according to Davis in the article linked above, and the portrayal of a typical cheeky Scouser who has time for everyone undoubtedly showcases one of the reasons Darren Moore will have wanted him. Moore is a people person and will want as many positive influences as he can find in his dressing room, and in a player whose departure from Rotherham caused his manager Paul Warne to state had “broke (his) heart”, Moore has found exactly that.
This should endear Taylor to Rovers supporters too. The tribulations of Alfie May over the past two seasons prove that a good portion of the fanbase are forgiving of a player who always puts in 110%, and Josh has only good things to say of Taylor on this front too. “I'd say the biggest majority of Rotherham fans liked him, he had a great connection with the Millers faithful. Warne and his coaching staff thought highly of him and loved his work rate and his personality. He also had a great relationship with his colleagues, he was good mates with all the players.”
Heavily linked with both Sunderland and Barnsley earlier in the summer, Taylor was on the radar of Bolton more recently but their ownership issues put paid to that. Taylor rejected a new contract from Rotherham following their relegation in May, with the player himself stating his desire to stay in the Championship. “I think I have more to give in that division,” he told The Star in June, but a move didn’t materialise and now he has opted to return to League One as a Doncaster Rovers player.
“I'd say the main reason (he left Rotherham) is because he probably wanted a fresh challenge in his career,” says Josh of his decision to move on. “The majority of players nowadays normally leave after a few seasons to pursue a different challenge, and he probably saw Doncaster Rovers as that club.” Rovers fans will certainly be hoping Taylor can meet that challenge and reproduce the form that made him a club record buy for the Millers in 2016 off the back of a 13-goal haul for Peterborough at this level.
A Good Fit?
Josh believes the environment at the Rovers could benefit a player at an age where he should now be hitting his prime. “You’ve got a good manager, new signings and a good buzz around the Keepmoat judging from what you have said,” suggesting it’s a step in the right direction for both club and player. “I’m not 100% sure whether he'd be a good signing for you, but he is a proven League One player who scored goals at Peterborough and (also scored) a few important goals for us.
“He's incredibly inconsistent but Darren Moore could certainly be the manager that changes him and makes him a more complete player. Time will tell.”
The fact remains that we have been crying out for an injection of pace and boundless energy in attacking areas and it appears Moore has found the player to fill that role. In moving for a player sought after by clubs with much bigger financial capabilities than ourselves, Rovers have put to bed some of the accusations of lacking ambition in the transfer market levied at them by the more discontented of our support base.
If Jon Taylor can hit the ground and running and replicate his excellent form at this level for both Peterborough and Shrewsbury, then we may have quite the player on our hands.