Chris Wilder praises impact of ex-Aston Villa defender Neil Taylor after Middlesbrough beat Bournemouth
Chris Wilder praised the evergreen Neil Taylor after the 32-year-old impressed on his Middlesbrough debut during his side’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth.
Taylor joined Boro as a free agent last month after he had been unable to secure a contract with anyone in the summer following his release from Aston Villa.
He has built up his fitness with a couple of outings for the Teessiders’ under-23s, and finally stepped into the first team to replace the unavailable Marc Bola.
He hit the ground running playing at left wing-back, with Wilder delighted the Boro hierarchy backed his decision to offer the former Wales international a short-term deal.
Wilder said: “We talked about the balance and the depth of the squad, and Neil knows what it’s all about with the professional that he is, and the way he’s had to look after himself.
“He’s played a couple of games with the under-23s – 45 and then 60 minutes – and it’s his work on the training ground, and away from things as well, that has given him the opportunity to produce a performance like that.
“He was up against mobile players in wide positions, but didn’t get exposed. He was good with the ball, and gave us a nice calmness about our play.
“I’m delighted for Neil because it’s been quite a difficult season for him, with not getting a club. But I knew of his availability and the club allowed us to bring him in, which I’m thankful for. He’s come in and played well, and gives us balance and competition in that position.”
At the other end of the experience scale, Wilder also praised 22-year-old right wing-back Isaiah Jones, whose purposeful running won the penalty which enabled Andraz Sporar to score the only goal of the game.
Wilder said: “He’s got loads to learn, and there’s a couple of things we need to tighten up with him, but it was a good performance.
“He had a little period for five minutes or so where he did his best to win the man of the match award, but then he did his best to chuck it away too. He’s a young boy learning, and these things are going to happen.
“His performance was good, and it had to be. The boys had to produce seven, eight or nine-out-of-10 performances because of the calibre of the team we were playing.”
Bournemouth’s defeat means Scott Parker’s side have now gone six games without a victory, a run that has resulted in questions being asked about their automatic-promotion credentials.
Dominic Solanke and Ryan Christie both spurned excellent second-half chances at the Riverside, but Parker admits his players are not operating at the levels they were hitting a couple of months ago.
The Bournemouth boss said: “You have to weather these moments, and understand there’s always going to be a bit of a blip and some adversity along the way. We’re right amongst that at this present moment in time.
“Are we the team we were six or seven weeks ago? No, of course not. I think you can see that. I think there’s definitely an element of us looking a little bit unconfident as well at the moment.”