I’ve never normally been one for podcasts, I’ve always wanted to give them a listen but have just never got around to it. Thankfully I finally got around to listening to the latest podcast from former Swan Owain Tudur-Jones with another former player Neil Taylor, and the pair of them offered a great insight into life as a footballer and some of the things that influence them the most in terms of where they want to ply their trade.
I’ll try to keep the quotes down to a minimum, and I hope Owain doesn’t mind me including some of them here, I recommend you all to give the podcasts a full listen yourself but I’ll try and highlight the most interesting quotes from a Swansea fan’s perspective.
It was fascinating to learn just how influential the right manager and quality training facilities at a club can be. The pulling power of the training ground, and how big stadiums like Newcastle’s St James’ Park can draw a player in. But whilst Taylor sounded in awe of visiting Newcastle’s stadium 8 or 9 years ago and the possibility at playing there at a high level when the Magpies met his buyout clause, working with a manager like Brendan Rodgers was just too good to let go for the left back, who’s now at fellow Championship side Aston Villa.
Talking about his decision to leave the Swans for the Villa in January 2017, the 29 year-old spoke about how he felt when he returned from Euro 2016 that Summer. He spoke about how he was on such a high having experienced a semi-final in a major competition, but coming back left him feeling “deflated”.
“I got to the Summer after the Euros, I looked at it and I was going back to Swansea, I’ve been honest about it before, with Guidolin I don’t think it quite worked with me and him.
“The way the club was going with Swansea, it hurt a lot of us because of the style of play that had gone completely.”
“That was our identity really and we saw a lot of change. With Laudrup, Monks, Guidolin and Bob Bradley – there was a lot of in’s and out’s and it didn’t feel like the same club anymore. I guarantee you the fans think the same thing.”
“It’s the natural process of football, I think it happens to every single team. Nothing lasts forever.”
“So I got to after that Summer and we were on such a high it was ridiculous. I was going back to Swansea and I had that feeling that I’d never had before and it was just deflated. I was thinking ‘I hope we do good things this season’ but at the time I don’t think we knew Guidolin. I think Brendan Rodgers was linked with coming back and we were all like ‘this could be brilliant’ but it didn’t happen in the end.”
“I’d been to Aston Villa’s training ground and I thought ‘wow this is what a proper football club looks like’, this is how a football club operates. – Neil Taylor
That last point about the training ground at Aston Villa is an interesting one. Taylor, along with the other Swans players shared a public gym facility in Llandarcy in our first Premier League season, before our brand new training complex opened in Fairwood in 2013.
Taylor would have experienced the new training facilities and then the extension of it for four years, but he still spoke about how Villa’s was another upgrade on that. Both Taylor and Tudur-Jones spoke about little things that add up. Tudur-Jones was impressed with the facilities at Norwich City, while Taylor spoke about little details like Villa had a receptionist at the front desk, each player had their own named parking bay – as opposed to fighting for spaces at Fairwood.
Taylor also revealed that he was close to joining Newcastle United after they activated his buyout clause, but explained that a long conversation with Brendan Rodgers convinced him to stay with the Swans.
“I had a long conversation with Brendan Rodgers and I wanted to develop under him. As long as he was the manager there I wanted to be there as well. He bamboozled me and he was the one to give me my chance in the first place. I loved his style of football and I owed the club as well a little bit.