Gareth Taylor won’t need much introduction to supporters present at the turn of the century.
The Welsh international striker joined City in November 1998 and went on to make 34 appearances over his two seasons with the Blues.
Now in charge of overseeing the club’s under-16 selection, Gareth is a key member of the coaching set-up going into the final year at Platt Lane before the move to City Football Academy next season.
It may seem quiet over at Platt Lane during the summer months without the usual flow of young footballers passing through the building and out to the training pitches but this is the time for planning and organisation to have everything in place for July 1.
The flagship year group from St Bede’s College is set to come into Taylor’s command next season, the first year of scholars from City’s revolutionary partnership with the Alexandra Park school which has been tailored to give youth players daily football coaching.
Needless to say, this is a programme with many benefits when it comes to producing elite youngsters – as former Blue Gareth is quick to point out.
“With the first St Bede’s group coming through, we will know where our players are and when they are sitting exams for instance– it will be much easier to plan so we can just concentrate on the football when we have them and less on logistics,” he said.
“It’s a challenging role at this level, it’s not all about coaching - it’s also about developing the person and creating the right environment for that to take place.”
Supporters may be familiar with a number of the youngsters from this age-group due to their 2012 trip to Singapore for the Canon Lion City Cup, which was featured extensively on the official site.
Over the next 12 months, Gareth will be responsible to developing these players and preparing as many of them for the Barclays under-18 Premier League as possible.
“I look at success, not just as results - it’s a success to provide a pathway to under-18 football and to get players through to that next level,” Taylor revealed.
“Last season we had 11 out of 18 playing under-18 Premier League football . We took on 12 scholars from that group and released six but four of those six have now been picked up by Premier League and Championship clubs which is really pleasing.
...Gareth Taylor - City u16s manager...
“We have a care of duty to look after the boys who are not successful – it’s the hardest thing I have to do, but it’s also a big part of the job.
“There are players who might not make it at Manchester City but if they have the right attitude and a good mentality, they can make it in the game.”
Manuel Pellegrini was appointed first-team manager on 14 June and gave his first interview in the hot-seat to City TV which was beamed around the globe.
The 59-year old spoke of the importance of continuing to develop attractive, entertaining football from the first-team down through the age-groups – a consistency of style that supporters will immediately recognise as the Manchester City way of playing.
Needless to say, Gareth watched this first interview with interest and declared himself impressed with the Chilean’s words.
“I was very impressed with him in the interview but not only in terms of his encouraging words but also on the importance of the academy,” the former Nottingham Forest striker stated.
“I was also very impressed with the quotes from the players who’ve worked with him that I’ve read, there’s no rocket science behind it, he has a system, he gives the players a lot of responsibility and he has high standards which he has demanded from everyone at his clubs.
“The playing style can feed down all the way down from the first-team to the academy - I think we’re really going to see the benefits of having a philosophy that will run right through the club in the years to come.
“I speak to Brian [Marwood] whenever I see him and Txiki [Begiristain], who has been fantastic since he’s come in– he’s a really approachable guy and he’s sang the praises of the Academy since he’s been here.
“All the feedback we’ve had has been great but we’re not going to put our feet on the table and think ‘job done’, we’ve still got a lot of hard work ahead of us, especially with moving to the new complex next summer.”
Gareth first joined the coaching set-up at City in 2011 when he helped oversee the Rishworth exchange programme with youth players in Abu Dhabi alongside Simon Davies and Neil Roberts, before taking charge of the under-16s last summer.
Although Taylor always planned for a career in coaching - to be given an opportunity at a club he has grown to love is very special to him.
“When you’re a player you think you’re going to play forever, I was fortunate enough to play to 38-years old when I finished as player-coach at Wrexham,” he said.
“My time at City as a player was a special one. We achieved back to back promotions to the Premier League”. This was from a club that was struggling down in the lower reaches of League One.
“It was a huge club back then as it has always has been but even down that low we were still pulling 30,000 plus attendances at Maine Road which is incredible and speaks volumes of the amazing support.
“It was a great time to be at the club. I think it’s the biggest club I’ve ever played for and this helps me educate the players having had that fantastic experience.
“I’ve loved my time at City.”
With another talented group of players honing their skills under his leadership more than a decade after his final appearance in sky blue, the story of Gareth Taylor and Manchester City looks like it’s only just getting started.