Bristol Rovers lost 'will and intent' - Taylor

Matt Taylor looks on from the dugoutImage source, Rex Features
Image caption,

Matt Taylor took over at Bristol Rovers having previously managed Rotherham and Exeter City

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Bristol Rovers manager Matt Taylor says the team lost a "real will and intent and drive" when players were told their future was not at the club.

Taylor was appointed in December after Joey Barton was sacked and said that after telling players their contracts were not to be extended, performances began to drop.

Rovers finished the season 15th in League One and have won 10 out of 28 games in the league under Taylor so far.

"I think what has been apparent is that some of the real will and intent and drive, when players have known their futures have been elsewhere, has been difficult as the season’s gone on," Taylor told BBC Radio Bristol.

"But that’s still excuses and justifications for ultimately myself and the team not producing the performances."

Captain Sam Finley and striker John Marquis were among the seven players released by the club this week following the end of the season.

"I think there has generally been a feeling that the end of this cycle of this group of players is coming closer and closer and we’ve had honest conversations with players from day one," Taylor said.

"The realistic aspect is we’ve not won enough games or scored enough goals or kept enough clean sheets and ultimately got enough points to be there in a better position than we are now."

Taylor said there was a feeling that the team had "left a bit out there" and not performed to their expectations.

He pointed to the turn of the new year as when the club's form turned for the worse.

The team was beaten by Norwich in an FA Cup replay, former top scorer Aaron Collins was sold to Bolton in January and coupled with "too many injuries", through March and into April they went seven games without scoring a goal.

Rovers ended the season having conceded more goals than relegated Cheltenham.

"[We've] not directly we’ve been able to replace him," Taylor said of Collins.

"That combined with the leaky side - what we’ve been for a long period of time and not doing the defensive basics, the fundamentals, well enough at this stage - probably put the team where we finished this season."

Image source, Rex Features
Image caption,

Striker Chris Martin was Bristol Rovers' top scorer this season with 16 and will be staying with the club

Taylor said while he takes ultimate responsibility for performances since he took over, he has not felt like the team is fully his.

"That’s something we want to address at the start of next season with new faces and new human beings in amongst the group and something to look forward to," he said.

"I want to be in more control of who’s available and who's performing and what the team looks like on a more consistent basis."

Taylor said the club will not have as big a squad next season due to finances, and will be focusing more on youth players before going into the loan market.

"That core group of half a dozen definite on-pitch signings are going to be the most important and then that's supplemented by some of our young ones, some loans, and it will get towards a double-figure mark," Taylor said.