Blame me, not the players, as under-fire Matt Taylor takes responsibility for Rotherham United's alarming slide
Taylor’s leadership, the club’s poor form on their travels during his 13 months in charge and their inability to back-up performances from one game to the next have all been thrown at the manager since Rotherham’s 2-0 defeat to the Owls.
His shoulders are broad enough to accept all that is coming his way - from the terraces and internally from the board - but what he doesn’t want is his players bearing the brunt, particularly on Saturday when fellow strugglers Queens Park Rangers come to the New York Stadium.
“I’d rather they criticised me than the players,” said Taylor, who said in his pre-match press conference on Thursday that it was important not to hide from Sunday’s embarrassment.
“I’d rather they give me stick than the players, because what Sunday does show is we’re quite fragile as a group and when the stronger ones amongst us aren’t able to get to the levels they can get to, then this group needs help and I’ll always try and help them. If that means taking responsibility I’ll take that all day long.
“And let’s be honest I deserve all the criticism I get on the back of Sunday because it was nowhere near the levels I expect, let alone our fans.”
What took many by surprise was the lacklustre nature of the performance against such a fierce rival – and a winless one at that - particularly coming just five days after they had beaten Coventry City on home soil.
That win was just their second of the Championship season and the only one in their last eight games.
Despite breaking the cycle of promotion-relegation between Championship and League One by keeping them in the second tier last season, it is a sequence of form that has put Taylor under significant pressure.
“The biggest pressure is my own pressure on myself and that’s where I was most disappointed with the weekend because that wasn’t what I expect, that wasn’t me, that wasn’t a team I’m associated with, same as my staff and same for a lot of players,” said Taylor, pictured. “You lose a game of football in that manner then the pressure is going to come more than it was previously.
“But I still believe in the job, I still work harder than anyone else in the game and this group of players can still achieve what I expect them to.
“We’ve had constant setbacks in terms of adversity and it’s still very much a united group, but there is a fragile nature about the way we feel right now because that was a real hammer blow and as the manager you cannot hide away from that fact.
“There’s no hiding place from how we felt Sunday and the pressure will continue to mount unless we win games of football, regardless of a local derby or the previous 13 games.”
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"It makes it harder to plan because of the uncertainty,” said Taylor, “but because of last weekend, we have to focus on ourselves.”