Matt Taylor on Exeter City's promotion, the League Two title and the Grecians' financial situation
Exeter City manager Matt Taylor insists he and his players are still focused on the remaining two games and a potential title despite securing their ultimate goal of promotion to League One with victory over Barrow on Tuesday night.
Club captain Matt Jay scored the decisive goal with a composed finish late in the second half to complete a comeback victory over Barrow after Kieran Phillips’ deflected strike cancelled out a bizarre early own goal from Cam Dawson.
The win took Exeter level on points with table-toppers Forest Green Rovers, following their defeat to Swindon Town, meaning the League Two title is up for grabs and subsequently Taylor is yet to really enjoy what the club have achieved.
“As I’ve said to my staff and a few people already, it's probably not sunk in for me personally yet,” says Taylor. “The most pleasing aspect for myself has been seeing everyone else's reaction, the players, first and foremost. Then obviously the fans and then everyone else associated with the football club.
"I’m waiting for the right time or the right availability to really digest it. Plus, we’ve still got a job to do with two games left.
"So I suppose I'm still in work mode and I can't quite get myself out of it and I probably don't want to get myself out of that mode to start with because we've got two important games.
"I'm sure come 5pm against Port Vale once I get a little bit of downtime I'll be able to assess what we've achieved, the magnitude of it and what a big achievement it is for everyone at the football club, myself included.
"But until that moment comes, I'm still pretty straight in terms of what I want to get to."
For the first time in ten years, Exeter will be playing football in England's third tier next season after three play-off heartbreaks in the last five seasons.
In the previous years campaign, where Exeter finished 9th, Taylor admitted the club would have to make sacrifices when it came to transfers, where several academy graduates, most notably Joel Randall and Josh Key, would need to feature prominently.
Despite the fact Exeter will be playing in the division above next season, Taylor admits not much has changed regarding his budget and that potential signings for the following campaign have been discussed throughout this season.
"We’ve been having those (conversations) all season," he said. "In all honesty, the amount of money we've got to spend, it doesn't change if we're in League One or League Two.
"We're still just targeting players who we think will make our squad players better and our squad better. There are probably three or four positions, which are key positions for next year where we want to target and really improve on.
"We're not going to make a whole host of signings, which we did last season and what we maybe did in my first season. It’s going to be a small number maybe around the four or five mark and then it's a case of fine tuning what we can bring into the football club, adding quality and players who have played at a certain level to this squad.
"So, we're looking for a smaller group of players this time round, but no less in terms of quality."
With Exeter joining Forest Green in confirming promotion this past week, there is only one automatic promotion place up for grabs heading into the final two games of the season.
Northampton, who the Grecians face on Saturday, currently occupy third but several teams are in the hunt and feasibly Swindon, who are eighth, could still go up as part of the top three.
Despite already winning promotion, Exeter can impact who finishes where in the final standings with Port Vale also to come on the final day of the season and Taylor openly admitted getting promoted was his primary goal for the season and that he left the option to push for the title up to his players, of which they all agreed to turn their focus towards.
“We always have our Thursday match meeting and I just asked them what do they want from me for the next seven days," he said. "In relation to what they've done this season, we never spoke about winning the league. We only spoke about getting promoted and they've achieved that.
"They came to me and said they want to really concentrate on focusing on the last two games this season with the opportunity and a chance to win a football league, something which barely ever comes around.
"So this is an opportunity that we can now focus towards, something that we haven't focused on all season, it's two games of football and we'll see where it takes us.