With the Swans earning another hard fought victory in the fight for Premier League survival last night the swap deal which saw Jordan Ayew arrive and Neil Taylor depart slipped slightly under the radar.
The departure of our Welsh international full back brings to an end the career of one of our longest serving players and one who deserves more respect than he is getting from the Jack Army.
It can’t be denied that the club has outgrown him and a move to pastures new is best for all concerned but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been a good player for the club down the years.
Not many of us were that excited when he arrived from Wrexham for a fee of £150,000 during the summer of 2010, after being recommended by Alan Curtis who knew the player from his role as Wales under 21 coach.
But it proved to be a very astute bit of business with Taylor proving to be a vast improvement on Federico Bessone who had just left for Leeds. In that first season he played thirty games and would usually fill in whenever there was an injury with Mr Versatile Alan Tate moving to accommodate him.
That season is remembered as the one when we won promotion to the Premier League but Taylor probably looks back on the Playoffs less fondly than the rest of us. His harsh red card by our pal Mike Dean in the semi-final first leg at Forest robbed him of the chance of playing any further part in our campaign but fortunately it didn’t matter.
The next season was probably his best at the club; he turned down an offer from Newcastle that summer to sign a new contract at the Liberty and started 36 of our 38 league games as the Swans finished their debut Premier League campaign in 11th place.
We expected more progress from our promising left back the following term but he sadly broke his ankle in early September at home to Sunderland which lead to youngster Ben Davies seizing the opportunity to take his place.
In truth Taylor was never quite the same after that, he seemed a yard slower, got forward less than previously and as the Swans continued to grow he got a bit left behind.
He became first choice left back again in 2014 when Davies joined Spurs and for the next two years was almost completely unchallenged for his place which for me was a real issue. The player probably knew himself that he would play every week and while that’s good for confidence you need an able deputy to keep you on your toes and we didn’t have one. Franck Tabanou was a complete waste of space while Stephen Kingsley too raw and inexperienced to be considered until this term.
This season Taylor has been in and out of the side like so many and he failed to cover himself in glory when he argued with Francesco Guidolin after being substituted in the first half of our draw with Chelsea. It was understandable that Taylor was annoyed but he should have kept his mouth shut until half time and said his peace behind closed doors. He showed a complete lack of respect for his manager which is unacceptable.
The arrival of Martin Olsson looked to have finally given Taylor real competition for his place and in his two appearances thus far he looks to be an upgrade on the former Wrexham man and with Villa offering more regular football for Taylor he decided it was best to sign on the dotted line at Villa Park.
Several players at the club should have been moved on over the last year or so of which Taylor is one but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been a good servant for us. I’ve never once looked at him and thought he wasn’t giving his all and there’s some here who I would definitely throw that accusation at.
Recently when he picked up an injury I saw several tweets in response so it saying it was “good news” and that they “hoped he was out for a while” which is completely uncalled for. We’re talking about a player who has represented us nearly 200 times during our most successful era. That alone tells us that he deserves far more respect than that.
He always gave his best but sadly it was no longer good enough but don’t forget that Neil Taylor has played his part at the club over the last few years and at £150,000 has to be considered as outstanding value for money. Thanks Neil and all the best.