STEVEN Taylor has sought to draw a line under speculation surrounding his Newcastle United future by insisting there is no lingering ill will between him and team-mate Andy Carroll.
Addressing the issue of his relationship with Carroll for the first time since reports emerged of a serious training ground altercation between the pair, Taylor says he has a “great understanding” with the England Under-21 striker.
It was claimed that Taylor was left with a broken jaw after a training ground bust-up in March – claims that were consistently met with a firm ‘no comment’ by Newcastle United officials. Taylor missed the second half of the season through injury.
With togetherness very much the theme of the moment at St James’ Park, Taylor is understandably reluctant to dredge up an issue that was the subject of much speculation last season.
The former England Under-21 defender admits it was “difficult” to hear some of the wilder rumours circulating the city but agreed with the club’s ‘no comment’ policy – which he believes helped the players stick together.
“What I can say about it is ‘Don’t believe everything you’ve read and heard’,” he said.
“We have a fantastic team bond and everyone is happy. I’ve not got a problem with anyone at the football club.
“People reading all of that stuff about me and Andy were probably amazed to see us standing together on the podium at the end of the season, but we’ve got a great understanding.
“There’s a fantastic team spirit at Newcastle United and no one wants to put that under threat.”
Taylor believes that United are in a “new era” and have moved on from the days when they were constantly buffeted by scandal and speculation.
He says his decision not to address the rumours at the time was a conscious one – and points to the trouble-free way that they clinched the Championship as proof that it was the right way to go.
“There’s always rumours knocking about with this football club. I remember when I was younger it was Ronaldo and Rivaldo signing for Newcastle United,” he said.
“The best thing is not to react to it and to just stick together. As a club we have been criticised in the past but as a football club now our attitude is to just keep quiet about it, let people write what they want to write and we’ll just get on with it.
“It’s a successful strategy, as far as I’m concerned. Look where that got us last season.”
Taylor, linked with a host of clubs throughout the summer, also insists he is happy at United.
As he moves into his final year his representatives are locked in negotiations on a contract extension, but Taylor will let his agent deal with the discussions while he focuses on the Premier League.
“There’s always things going on around contract negotiations. It’s all paper talk and you need to let things happen,” he said.
“My agent Paul Stretford is taking care of things and my main focus is playing football for Newcastle United. That hasn’t changed.
“I’m happy at Newcastle United – I’ve got another year left here and I just want to get back playing again.”
United may not have had a particularly high-profile summer but Taylor subscribes to the theory that the squad is in better shape for its year in the Championship.
“This is a new era for Newcastle United and I’m really, really looking forward to,” he said.
“I think we bounced back very well. We had a great season last year – unbeaten at home and made St James’ Park a fortress.
“As players we’ve grown in confidence and I think we’ve learned from our mistakes during that season in the Championship.”