STEVEN TAYLOR can understand the frustrations of Newcastle United’s fans after a collapse in the second half of the season - and thinks the challenge is to make Tyneside proud when the Premier League restarts in August.
The Magpies won just five of their 20 games after the turn of the year, form which saw them tumble out of contention for a European place and finish in tenth spot, a position carrying a prize pot of £13.2m.
Alan Pardew, the Newcastle boss, was quick to point out that the club has to recruit before next season having not signed a first team player on a permanent basis since Moussa Sissoko arrived from Toulouse in January 2013.
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Taylor and the rest of the players are under orders from above not to discuss Newcastle’s transfer strategy publicly and the centre-back adhered to that by stating ‘it’s nothing to do with me. I am just a player.’
But Pardew is due to meet up with managing director Lee Charnley and club owner Mike Ashley this week to plot a way forward on the transfer front, with Pardew to be given the go-ahead to add greater experience to a young squad - and do so before the World Cup starts in June.
There could also be departures, on top of the expiring loans of Loic Remy and Luuk De Jong, and Taylor has been mooted as a possible sale for the majority of the campaign, having struggled to command a first team shirt this season.
Taylor said: “I have two years left (on my contract) anyway. I don’t see my future anywhere apart from Newcastle. I have said that since I was a young lad coming through the ranks. I love it at Newcastle. I would love to finish my career here.”
Whether his calls are listened to will become clearer in the weeks ahead, but he would prefer to be part of next season’s Newcastle team aiming to make up for the mistakes made over the last five months.
While Taylor understands why supporters are peeved by the failure to build on a promising start which had them in touch with the top four before New Year, he also thinks the focus should be on how to make progress again next time around.
The centre-back said: “The aim this season was to finish in the top ten. Next season we have to make sure we improve and better that finish again. We had a great first half of the season then after Christmas time things didn’t happen for us.
“We had a bad run towards the end of the season and the fans are entitled to voice their opinions. They pay good money to follow this club and have high expectations. We have to live up to those expectations and that’s part and parcel of being a professional footballer.”
The spotlight has turned on Pardew in recent weeks, with supporters calling for the manager to go along with Ashley. Inside the boardroom, however, it is understood the focus is purely on how the manager can have an improved squad for the start of next season.
Regardless of what happens in the next 12 weeks, Taylor wants the existing players to head away for a break and return refreshed and ready to deliver in the Premier League.
He said: “We have to make sure we get back to being like a team at the start of the season. We were fantastic at that stage. We were all sticking together and that’s what we all have to do as players. What happens over the summer we will see.
“Our home form was not good enough and we have to work on that. We have to make it a fortress at St James’ Park. I think the way we performed at Liverpool on Sunday was spot on, we were a proper unit.
“We showed how we can be solid and work together at Liverpool, we have to do that more often next season. We have gone to tough places like Manchester United and got results, we have caused a few upsets. Next season we need to improve and stick together.”
Despite losing to Liverpool on Sunday after conceding two goals in quick succession from Daniel Agger and Daniel Sturridge from Steven Gerrard free-kicks, Newcastle turned in an encouraging display for the first hour and gained a lead when Martin Skrtel’s own goal.
“You could tell it was a good performance initially with how frustrated the Liverpool players got,” said Taylor. “We were really good, the shape was spot on, and caused problems on the break.
“Even in the second half they were just passing from side to side and were not getting through us. But you can’t give set pieces away with the height they had in their team and expect to get away with it. They were more dangerous on set pieces more than anything.”