This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Player view’ series, this content strand is where we put ourselves in the shoes of a given player, and offer an opinion-based outlook on the perspective on the situation at hand…
Bristol City’s pursuit of a new striker this summer was a rollercoaster ride.
The Robins entered into the off-season in need of more firepower, having finished eighth but scored 10 goals less than any team in the top six and 34 fewer than league winners Norwich City.
Numerous strikers from both in the Championship and further afield were linked with a move to the Robins but they seemed unable to land one.
Deadline day proved a microcosm of a frustrating summer. Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah, courted by City from before the summer, missed is medical with the Bristol club and moved on loan to Leeds, Charlie Austin opted for West Brom, and academy product Bobby Reid preferred a transfer to Fulham over a move home.
Eventually, in a move that went right down to the wire, City signed Benik Afobe on loan from Stoke City.
Throughout all of this, Matty Taylor was caught in a frustrating limbo, not knowing whether he was coming or going. The 29-year-old was reportedly going to leave the club when a new forward came in, with Charlton understood to be interested, but the timing of the Afobe move appears to meant that has fallen through.
The transfer window is still open for League One and Two clubs, meaning that a move is still possible for the forward, but a rumoured switch to Oxford United was played down yesterday by City assistant coach Jamie McAllister.
The striker faces a tough decision about his future, knowing that the club wanted to move him on but with a Championship switch no longer possible.
The addition of Afobe pushes Taylor further down the City pecking order, with Famara Diedhiou, Andreas Weimann, and 19-year-old Antoine Semenyo all likely ahead of him.
This will be particularly frustrating for the 29-year-old as he is coming off the back of his best season in a Robins’ shirt. Taylor made 33 Championship appearances, just 10 of which were starts, and contributed four goals and six assists–his most significant production since making the controversial switch from Bristol Rovers in January 2017.
The forward will have known when he made that move that there was a risk he was sacrificing going from Rovers’ main man to a City bit-part player, and so it has proved.
At 29, he now has to decide whether he is willing to continue playing that role, with the potential for even fewer minutes this season.
He will likely feel that his performances last season showed that he deserves to be playing at Championship level and could be forgiven for not wanting to step down into the lower leagues–at his age, he may never get back up.
Johnson spoke earlier in the summer about wanting to have as many different forward options as possible to allow him to switch between them and tailor his attack to the defence they face.
This should be a boost to Taylor’s first-team chances if he stays at Ashton Gate. The 29-year-old is an industrious, high-energy forward who annoys defences and makes some really smart runs–he offers Johnson something no other forward in the squad does.
Waiting may be a smart move for Taylor, to allow him to see how much he is involved during the first half of the season and assess what options are open to him in January before deciding on a move.
Either way, his switch from Rovers and his part in the winner against Manchester United at Ashton Gate will mean he has secured a small place in Robins folklore.