Taylor eyes Wembley cheer

Matt Taylor has played more than 450 league matches and is hoping to draw on that vast experience during Saturday's npower Championship Play-Off final.

The 30-year-old won promotion with both Luton Town and Portsmouth before enjoying a fine Premier League career with both Pompey and at Bolton Wanderers.

Taylor also played at Wembley for Bolton in last season's FA Cup sem-finals, only to suffer a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Stoke City.

The No14 is hoping to eradicate that memory and complete a personal hat-trick of promotions on Saturday, but insists he will be keeping his feet on the ground to ensure he produces the best-possible performance.


"Obviously we all know the importance of it, but I know it probably sounds like a cliché, but you can't put too much emphasis on the game itself," said Taylor. "We just have to play the game and not the atmosphere.

"It is going to be a wonderful day for the club in terms of the fact that it is a trip to Wembley, but we have to make sure that as players we don't get overawed and caught up in the atmosphere.

"It will be one of the biggest games in my career, but you can make as much out of it as you want. Obviously there will be a huge build-up in the press and what have you, but from a point of view in terms of the team we will be keeping low key because you can get too overawed and the emotions can become raw on the day if you keep hyping yourself up.

"I played at Wembley last season, but it obviously wasn't a great experience in the FA Cup semi-final, but I have been there so hopefully I will know what to expect and hopefully it will be a better experience this time around!"

While Taylor himself will draw on his great experience to keep his own emotions in check, he said his colleagues were also level-headed enough not to let the occasion of playing in front of 90,000 supporters for a place in the Premier League get to them.

That said, he admitted that there would still be some butterflies as the Hammers lineup in the Wembley tunnel ahead of what is a hugely-important game for the future of the Club.

"I don't think anyone will need calming down," he said. "I think that we all ultimately know the importance of the game but, in saying that, we want to make sure that we go about things in the right manner and continue from what we have done in the past eight to ten weeks in terms of what we have done on the pitch."

"Everybody is going to be nervous when we step out there, it's arguably the biggest club game in terms of money - I think someone was talking about £90 million. We all know what is at stake. We all know we want to get back into the Premier League, but Blackpool are going to be thinking and wanting to do exactly the same thing."

Taylor also played down media claims that West Ham are big favourites to succeed at the Home of Football.

Blackpool finished above the Hammers in the Premier League table last season and enjoyed a fine 3-2 aggregate victory over Birmingham City in the Play-Off semi-finals, and Taylor knows Ian Holloway's side will be a tough nut to crack.

"We are both in the same position in terms of both teams got relegated last season and obviously both teams would like to bounce back at the first opportunity. One of us is going to do so on Saturday and hopefully it will be us.

"Blackpool are a good football team and they are there on merit. They had a really good end to the season and I watched the second leg of their Play-Off semi-final against Birmingham and they played good football so it is going to be a very tough afternoon."

West Ham enjoyed two comprehensive victories over Blackpool during the regular season - 4-0 at home and 4-1 at Bloomfield Road - but Taylor said they will be irrelevant at Wembley.

However, he does believe the Hammers' recent run of one defeat in 20 matches means they will travel to the final feeling confident of completing the job.

"It doesn't count for anything. For me it is 90 minutes now and that is all that is important, the results count for nothing when the whistle goes at three o'clock on Saturday.

"I think everybody confident because winning football matches breeds confidence, and that's what we've done. We've scored goals and the forwards are scoring goals and that always helps so we are in decent form and the boys are in good spirits."