Playing to the Max

MANCHESTER United’s Max Taylor described having the “best of both worlds” following his loan move to Stalybridge Celtic.

“I am getting experience of men’s football on loan while at the same time still training with United,” explained Taylor who joined Celtic on his 20th birthday.

Max Taylor

Taylor, a 6ft 4in central defender, explained he is still in rehab having only returned to football in October following 15 months on the sidelines as he battled cancer.

He is happy and relieved to be back playing after a traumatic period in his life and will remain at Bower Fold for the remainder of the season.

United and Celtic, who play in the seventh tier of the football pyramid, are light years apart and Taylor admitted it is far removed from playing Under-23 football with the Reds.

He explained: “At United it is about the development of technical ability and awareness of tactics.
“Here it is more about developing physically and results matter.

“When you make a mistake at United it is put down to development and doesn’t matter, but here you are made not to make mistakes.

“I am also hoping my time with Celtic will improve the defensive side of my game as at United, if our team was attacking, I often didn’t have a lot to do in games.”

Taylor added when he returned to action in October it was solely to focus on playing games for the U23s.

There was, however, a surprise in November when he was called into the first-team squad and was on the bench for the Europa League game in Kazakhstan against Astana.

Taylor, a second-year professional at Old Trafford, said: “When I was told I was in the squad it as a shock as I didn’t expect it.

“It was a real eye opener and provided a hint of what I am striving for.

“The whole experience of travelling with the first team for the first time and being involved in the game was amazing, something I will never forget.

“And the good thing is that it wasn’t as though I was alone as a few of us (U23s) also made the trip.”

LEIGH, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 09: Max Taylor of Manchester United U23s in action during the Premier League 2 match between Manchester United U23s and West Bromwich Albion U23s at Leigh Sports Village on December 09, 2019 in Leigh, England. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Taylor, who is under contract with the Reds until 2021, added it whetted the appetite to become a first-team regular.

“Once you have had a taste it gives you something to strive towards. I definitely want to make it.”

But it was looking at the bigger picture that prompted Taylor to make the switch to join Celtic.

“When it came to Christmas, the U23s only had eight games left which is why I was keen to get more experience by coming out on loan,” he said.

Taylor added he has easily adjusted to life at Bower Fold.

He said: “The lads have made me feel welcome and I have been impressed by their willingness to work hard.

“As a young player it has been great to play alongside defenders like Chris Smalley and Stephen O’Halloran who have a lot of experience.

“They have really helped me and are always talking to me during games.”

While Taylor lacks experience, he describes his height and pace as two attributes which are advantageous.

Taylor’s journey to Old Trafford has not been a lengthy one – he lives a short distance from Old Trafford down the A56 in Altrincham.

He was signed for the Reds from grassroots football aged 14 having played for Hough End Griffins.

Taylor described it as a dream come true to join the club and, as all his family are Reds, he did not have a choice when growing up.

He has always been a central defender and says Rio Ferdinand and especially Nemanja Vidic were his idols as a boy.

Of his battle with cancer, Taylor explained it is almost one year since he was given the all-clear.

“Obviously it is in the back of your mind but since I returned I have been fully focused on football,” he said.

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