By Liam Scahill
Villa’s January transfer window has been a Pandora box laden with copious amounts of excitement & wonder for the claret and blue hordes, from scavenging the murky corners of the net looking for trinkets of imminent transfer rumours to reactivating parts of our brain muscles in a futile attempt to fathom Dr Tony’s quadratic equations.
One of the less celebrated off the conveyor belt line of incomings this January window is Neil Taylor from Swansea City, a man lauded by his fellow Welsh brethren just a few months ago for his international performances at the Euros. The left-back is a component of a transfer conundrum, which sees him depart Swansea City after seven years and the claret & blue enigma Jordan Ayew move the other way (plus a reported £5m coming Villa’s way too).
One would imagine that something has gone awry for Taylor in Wales in terms of his first team place and unfortunately for the Welshman, Stephen Kingsley a young 22-year-old Scot has been basking in a breakthrough season at the Swans. Taylor a once automatic name on the starting 11 team sheet since the challenge/departure of Ben Davies, has found his stock fall and his behind warming the bench.
Fall From Grace
Hmmm, obviously though after seven years at the club, Swan’s fans will be sad to see him go right!? Maybe most, but not all is the answer. For all intents and purposes, if Taylor remained at the Liberty Stadium he would be third choice left back at the Welsh club, following Swansea’s acquisition of flying Swede Martin Olsson.
It can’t have been an easy decision for Taylor to accept his time was up, he joined the Swan’s footballing revolutionary journey through the divisions many moons ago from Wrexham, back in 2010. At 27, a change of scenery and a new challenge at the Villa, might be exactly what the doctor has ordered for both Taylor and Villa.
His form in recent months since the party at the Euros has declined, defensive lapses have crept into his game on occasion and worryingly one could argue he has suffered from a common footballing ailment in the form of a ‘crisis of confidence’. When the gauntlet for his starting place was thrown down by young Kingsley, it could be argued that Taylor folded, hence the exit door was ajar for him.
Also, his relationship with Swan fans and intrinsically maybe the wholesome fabric of a club like Swansea City suffered a public setback last September.
The Wales star was enjoying a starting berth in a Swansea side against Antonio Conte’s all conquering Chelsea side, but trailing 1-0, on the 42nd minute, the then manager of Swansea City Francesco Guidolin summoned the managerial hook and hauled off Taylor for a humiliating public shaming first half substitution under the full glare of the live Sky cameras.
Instead of sulking or maybe answering a footballing crescendo often observed in footballing hotbeds in Latin countries and walking straight down the tunnel. Taylor’s emotional overload manifested itself from the substitute dugout, in the form of palpable visible bitter frustration at Guidolin’s decision as he shook his manager’s hand.
Some viewed Taylor’s aggrievance as a mark of disrespect for the club, but a staunch defence for Taylor’s actions at the time was provided by former Swansea legend Lee Trundle who stated “I honestly believe that he was simply showing his passion, showing that he cares about the team and the club. His frustration came in the heat of the moment”.
Jordan Amavi will the obstacle in the way in his fight for a starting place at Villa.
Amavi a young player full of undoubted potential, is akin to the footballing perceptions emitted by Taylor in many aspects. He is lauded by many, criticised by some and stalked by one Olympique de Marseille, who seem to be intent on taking the Frenchman back to his homeland at some point in time as part of Frank McCourt’s Les Phocéen revolution.
Taylor is by no means guaranteed a starting place at Villa, as his direct rival is adored by many a Villa fan. Perhaps Amavi’s adoration is unmerited at times but none the less it exists. Taylor will have a formidable fight on his hands, how he reacts and wages a war of adjustment within his inner self to his new surroundings will go a long way in determining how successful a signing he will prove to be.
What Taylor’s signing will generate, is competition, which in the short to medium term can only be good thing for Villa’s ever faint promotional aspirations this season. Amavi will compete against a much-needed rival and should Villa’s promotional dreams derail this season and Amavi wave Au Revoir Mes Amis to us in the summer. Taylor should be ready and settled.
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