Writer: Aaron Gales
Date:Monday December 29 2008
I can remember Steven Taylor breaking into the Newcastle side as a raw 18 year old with bags of talent and potential. We have had lots of decent youngsters come through the system in recent years and go on to play for the first team, but this particular player was supposed to be a bit special, and early performances suggested that we may have found the next John Terry and a player that we could build our defence around for the next decade and beyond.
Despite the occasional blip here and there, and injury problems, particularly with his shoulders, his progress seemed to be on a steady upward curve, which has resulted in recognition at international level. He has captained the under 21 side for two years, as well as being capped for the England B side and being included in Steve McLaren`s first England squad, though he didn`t make it onto the field.
However since then Taylor`s career appears to have somewhat stagnated. He still has the occasional game where he looks like the future England centre half that he no doubt has the potential to be, but these games are becoming few and far between. My problem with Taylor is that he appeared to start believing his own hype. He can often be seen in games gesticulating and waving his arms at the other defenders around him, trying to get them organised and giving the impression that he sees himself as something of a leader, when in fact Taylor would be better served concentrating on his own performance.
His decline in performances was no more evident than in yesterday`s performance against Liverpool. Now whilst I can`t take anything away from Liverpool, who gave a truly magnificent performance, worthy of potential champions, the defensive performance was a shambles. And whilst it would be unfair of me to apportion all the blame to Taylor (Coloccini had the worst game I have seen him have in Newcastle shirt), he played a big part in it.
The defence, which in recent weeks has looked rock solid, looked a shadow of its former self, with the previously outstanding Colocinni, doing his best impersonation of Jean Alain Boumsong without the assured presence of Sebastien Bassong alongside him and I think this has much to do with the poor standard of performance of Taylor, who was quite frankly all over the place. And this isn`t the first time our defence has been upset by the presence of Taylor, with the Stoke game being another prime example.
At half time we were 2-0 up and cruising with our back four of Beye, Bassong, Coloccini and Enrique looking almost impenetrable. However with the half time injury to Danny Guthrie a half time reshuffle was called for with Beye being pushed up into right midfield with Taylor coming into the right back slot. This decision by Kinnear undoubtedly upset the balance of the side and in hindsight I think the team would actually have been better served leaving the defence as it was and playing Taylor on the right of midfield.
So what does the future hold for Steven Taylor? Well I sincerely hope to be proved wrong but I don`t think it holds a great deal. I would love him to fulfil his undoubted potential and would like nothing more than to see him go on to play for England and lead a Newcastle United side to glory. He turns 23 in January. He can no longer be classed as a promising youngster. It is time for Steven Taylor to stand up and deliver.
Date:Monday December 29 2008
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