Originally a forum post by LaFraise92, click here to go the thread
Ryan Taylor joined Newcastle from Wigan in February 2009, having previously been part of a Tranmere Rovers team that reached the League 1 playoffs in 2004. His signing for an undisclosed fee in the throes of our relegation season seems somewhat symbolic of the club’s transition from the old ways; the only thing we know about the deal is that it was a part-exchange for Charles N’Zogbia. Taylor’s first season on Tyneside saw him set up Steven Taylor for a goal on his debut against West Brom, and make a total of ten appearances before we were relegated to the Championship.
Since then, he has arguably played two full seasons – the 2009/10 Championship, when he scored 4 from 36 appearances, and the 2011/12 Premier League, when he got 3 from 34, including the fondly-remembered “Oh Ryan” free kick which curled softly and alluringly into the mackems’ net. He had been mostly used as a substitute in our first season back, with James Perch and Sol Campbell taking up his usual position at right-back.
Towards the end of the 2011/12 season, Taylor was proving himself an invaluable squad player, providing cover for Danny Simpson, as well as a lethal set-piece specialist. He was also a fan favourite due to his mackem-bothering antics and a seemingly humble, focused nature, à la Leighton Baines at Everton. He had proven himself a decent, if not first-choice, right-back in the Premier League and distinguished himself with game-winning set pieces and assists.
As his 28th birthday came around in August 2012, it seemed that Taylor would be invaluable for our Europa League campaign. To that end, he started against Atromitos in our first group game on 23 August and it seemed to be business as usual with him bagging a free kick goal – but in the return leg on 30 August he would suffer a potentially career-ending injury as he tore the cruciate ligament in his right knee. He was stretchered off the pitch and is yet to appear either as a starter or on the bench, for either the senior team or reserve outfits. To add insult to injury, his misery was further compounded when, upon returning to training at the end of last season, he tore his knee ligament once again.
Alan Pardew has stated that Taylor will definitely miss the entirety of this season – giving him a potential return-to-availability date of August 2014, almost two years since he last competitively donned a Toon shirt. But this begs the question – will we ever see Ryan Taylor play another game for the Toon?
Mathieu Debuchy is well-entrenched at right-back, and as a regular member of the French national team is arguably of a much higher quality than Taylor. It’s hard to see Taylor pushing him out of contention, especially considering Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon and Anita are all capable of playing in that position as well. By the time he returns, Taylor will be touching 30 years old and in the final year of his contract, which expires in June 2015. By contrast, the oldest of our other available right backs is again Debuchy, who is a full year and two months younger than Taylor. Their styles also match quite closely – attacking, pressing wing backs – so it is a stretch to imagine that we would ever prefer to select Taylor over the Mighty Buche.
Surely it can’t hurt to have a free kick specialist around then? Well, Gallic huff-taker and all round dreamboat Yohan Cabaye has established his status as set-piece specialist at the Gallowgate, and Sylvain Marveaux has shown an eye for goal in similar situations, despite the fact that he seems to be confined to the reserve team these days. It would be hard to justify including a player just for free kicks, as much as we’d like to have that liberty.
Then there’s the question of whether Taylor will even be half the player he was before his injury. We see it time and time again – the slow, gradual erosion of a player’s abilities by age and injury: Marco van Basten, Steve Coppell, Paul Lake. Taylor is perhaps not of the calibre of van Basten but that does not make his drastic fall from grace any less sad. It seems more and more unlikely that Ryan Taylor will play again in a Newcastle shirt in anything other than a bit-part role. It’s a real shame to see a guy who seems genuine, fair and more than adequately skilled leave, but at this stage in his career it seems inevitable.
What do you think? Have your say in the discussion thread.