Hammers Taylor made for the fight in the midfield
09:44 06 March 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
West Ham star talks about his new role
West Ham midfielder Matt Taylor had been on the fringes of the squad for much of these last two Premier League seasons, but his new role in the centre of midfield has given him a new lease of life and a steady place in the starting line up.
Taylor has actually started the last 10 games and though two of those saw him moved to fill in at right back, his emergence has coincided with the return to form of the team and their move up the table.
“I am just enjoying my football to be honest,” said the 32-year-old, who spent much of his career playing on the left-hand side.
“I’m enjoying my chance to play because the older you get, the more you appreciate playing football because it won’t be around forever.
“So from that point of view I am really enjoying it and if I can contribute to the team, I will be really happy with that.”
Contribute he certainly is. His tough tackling and incisive passing has meant that manager Sam Allardyce has kept faith with him in the middle of the park, despite the return to fitness of Mo Diame, Joe Cole and Jack Collison.
Taylor though was left frustrated on Saturday as Everton sneaked a late winner to spoil the afternoon.
“It is obviously very disappointing,” he reflected. “I thought we contained them very well. They are a top team and when you come here they are going to have a lot of possession and they did, but it is disappointing to lose matches.
“I thought we could have done better when we attacked on the counter, but it wasn’t to be and it was unfortunate to concede that goal in the last 10 minutes.”
In the last few games, West Ham have managed to soak up some pressure and then hit teams with some superb finishing, but Taylor admitted that things did not go quite to plan at Goodison Park.
“We didn’t hit the target against Everton,” said the former Bolton man. “In possession I didn’t think we were as good as we have been, but out of possession I thought we were as good as we have been.”
Despite the defeat, West Ham still sit 10th in the Premier League table, but with Everton some 17 points ahead of them is there really that big a gap between the two?
Taylor doesn’t think so: “I think we know and Everton have shown in the past that they are in a group of teams that are challenging for Europe, but we want to be there ourselves,” he said.
“I don’t think the gap is as big as you might suggest. You can argue there is a bigger one between them and the top four, I don’t know.
“The league has shown this year that anyone can beat anybody, so I don’t think there is as big a gap as some may think.”
West Ham are still only seven points clear of the relegation zone and with Hull City still in the FA Cup, next week’s match between the two has been postponed, but Taylor remains in a positive mood.
“We are still in a positive position in the league and though it is frustrating that we don’t play this weekend, we now have to make sure we are right to go to Stoke City, because they have just got a great result against Arsenal and it is going to be another difficult away fixture,” he said.
“We need to pick ourselves up from the Everton defeat. There are 10 games left before the end of the season and we need to get as many results as we can to make sure we cement our place in the top half.”
With Taylor’s consistency, they have certainly gone a long way doing just that.