After gaining promotion to the Football League for the first time in their history, Fleetwood Town put precedence on signing those that have been there and done it.
Another step in their momentous rise, as well as with the backing of a committed chairman in Andy Pilley, brought with it names like Jon Parkin, Barry Nicholson, Damien Johnson, Dean Howell and David Ball as the Cod Army aimed to make their stay in the fourth tier a brief one.
A year later, a 13th place, a new manager and a new set of players, but one that put the onus on young players to show their talents. Graham Alexander, the former Burnley and Preston North End full back, brought in Antoni Sarcevic, an attacking midfielder with a lethal eye for goal, and Jamille Matt, but Charlie Taylor may have proven to be his best piece of business so far in his early managerial career.
On October 15, when Fleetwood acquired a young left-back with very little experience a one-month loan, it appeared to be a stop gap. A plug if you like, that had been put in place until the experienced Stephen Jordan and Dean Howell returned to fitness.
Opposing teams often targeted Taylor as the ‘weak link’ in a side brimming with talent, a naive thought as he proved over the coming weeks and months that this was not the case.
Taylor has impressed so much on the Fylde Coast that he earned an extension until the end of the season. In a team that has been chopped and changed throughout the season, Taylor has been a may stay and his performances have warranted it.
The 20-year-old has fit seamlessly into a formation that put great importance on full backs being an attacking outlet – Conor McLaughlin on one side, Taylor on the other – to create the chances from the wing and monopoly the ball from the wing to attackers.
His athleticism is his greatest asset. Taylor is an endless runner, yet he possesses a great left foot and he has proven to be Fleetwood’s most consistent performer over the course of a campaign where he has had his most consistent run of games.
On May 20, Taylor signed a new three-year deal with Leeds United. It was a move that came as no surprise and the young York born youngster has the potential to step up his game to another level next season even the Whites do not consider him ready to be a regular starter at Elland Road.
He will not be short of admirers. Taylor’s performances at Highbury will bring undoubted interest once again, which could only heighten if the Cod Army can bypass Burton Albion and secure their place in League 1 after only a two-year stay in the fourth tier.
Taylor, no doubt, will be one of the first names in the starting line-up for that play-off final at Wembley Stadium on Bank Holiday Monday. Now who would have thought that of a teenager who looked to have just been brought in just for cover?
Tom – Fleetwood Town fan