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Monday, 20 June 2011

Ryan Taylor, A Millers View

Ryan Taylor became City's second signing of the summer today, the out-of-contract striker signing from Rotherham for a fee to be decided by either negotiation or tribunal (he's out of contract but under-24, meaning a fee is payable).

Whilst you may have seen him score both of the Millers' goals in vain during the play-off final at Wembley a year ago, and know his strike partner Adam le Fondre has scored goals for fun alongside him, I think it's safe to say there aren't too many Robins fans who know much about Taylor, so I've enlisted the help of Jonathan Veal, a journalist who covers Rotherham, to give us the lowdown on our new player.

Ryan Taylor was something of a late developer for Rotherham and the season just gone was his first run of games as a first choice striker.

He was unlucky in the early part of his career, suffering from injuries and
glandular fever and he was only ever a bit-part player that, despite being a local-born lad, struggled to get the fans on his side.

With his career drifting at the Millers under boss Ronnie Moore, he made a
surprise move to Exeter on loan. They were in a division above Rotherham and he went straight into their team and become a major player for them.
He returned to Don Valley a different player and enjoyed his moment in the sun in a Millers shirt came at the end of last season when he scored both goals at Wembley in a losing cause in the play-off final.

More bad luck followed when he broke his metatarsal on the first day of
pre-season last summer and was out until late September. He took time to find his feet, but soon forged a potent partnership with Adam Le Fondre.

Finally the fans were seeing a consistent run of performances from him and he was one of the shining lights in what ended up being a dismal season for the Millers last term.

A tall and strong striker, he has a good touch and has good awareness of what is going on around him. He won’t score 20-plus a season, but he’ll create for those around him.

He reneged on a new deal but is a down-to-earth lad, who is approachable and will work hard for his chance.

But I think he has really landed on his feet with the move he has got. Yes, he was one of Rotherham’s better players last season, but that was in League Two. A three-year deal at a Championship club on the back of two goals at Wembley and half a season of consistent football does not stack up for me. There is no doubt there is potential there, but I just think this move has come too soon for him and he would have been better served having another season playing first-team football and then moving on.

So, have we unearthed a hidden gem? There is clearly potential, and anyone who can help his partner score 50 goals in fewer than 100 games is worth a look. The fact that he performed well on loan at Exeter at the higher level bodes well, and perhaps points to a player able to rise to the challenge.

It feels like he will be a player who will link up well with Maynard or Pitman, and he looks to be more of a leader of the line than Jon Stead, whose best moments seem to come when dropping a little deeper. But with those three already battling for a couple of spots, it would appear as if Taylor is destined for a season of development.

If there's one thing an ex-centre half should be able to pick it's a good striker - they know what they didn't like playing against - and in Pitman and Stead, Millen has already proven he has a shrewd eye for forward players. This is probably his biggest leap of faith to date though, and Jonathan's views above seem to indicate it's a gamble at best.

Time will tell though, and he does at least fit the current criteria for signings - young, hungry, bags of potential but relatively cheap. I suspect we may not see the best of him until the season after next, so a touch of patience is needed amongst fans often too desperate for instant success.

Many thanks to Jonathan for his assistance with this article, check him out at http://twitter.com/#!/jonathandveal83

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