Lyle Taylor exclusive: AFC Wimbledon players need to take blame for Neal Ardley’s departure


Lyle Taylor reckons AFC Wimbledon’s players should take huge responsibility for the recent departure of Neal Ardley.

The 28-year-old striker was a big fans’ favourite during his time with the South London club, scoring 55 goals in 150 matches before joining Charlton Athletic in the summer.

The Montserrat international had his career revitalised by Ardley, who signed him from Scunthorpe United in July 2015.

Taylor was a vital part of the Dons strikeforce as they won promotion via the League One play-offs. And he pulls no punches when he discusses the long-serving boss stepping down from his role last month – with Wally Downes appointed as his successor.

“He is the manager who signed me and gave me the platform to be where I am now,” said Taylor. “I was gutted for him. He didn’t deserve that and if you ask me there are people to blame for what happened and who won’t ever have to take the blame.

“But nowadays the only option for a football club is to get rid of a manager, it’s not to delve deeper into things that are going on around a football club or around a dressing room.

“Now you get rid of a manager and hope the next one is able to fix the issue, whatever that might be.

“The things I heard were that a lot of things went on that let the manager down. That’s from me looking from the outside in, but knowing what I know.

“That’s the most disappointing thing. We ran through brick walls and achieved the improbable, possibly the impossible, to get in to League One.

“I can only question if the current squad has the same affection and affinity for the club as we had when we were in there.

“I think a lot of the boys could’ve done a lot more, but either chose not or didn’t for whatever reason. The playing squad at Wimbledon now is better than the one when I was there and they are in a worse position, even than last year when we had a horrendous run. I question that.”

It will be the first time that Taylor has faced his old employer since he decided to leave on a free transfer.

Charlton had made a move for him in the January transfer window but  the Dons were not prepared to let their leading striker leave with their League One status up in the air. He ended up with 18 goals in 52 appearances in 2017-18.

“To be honest this is the game I was looking forward to most this season,” he said. “A lot has changed over the last few weeks, so it will be a different Wimbledon to the one I left which nostalgically-speaking isn’t great.

“But that’s football. I wish them the very best, except for when we play them. I expect their fans will say the same about me.

“I’ll also look forward to the one in February over there. I’ll do everything I can to try and make it, because it is a game I want to play in. But it is all about results.

AFC Wimbledon’s Adebayo Akinfenwa (right) and Lyle Taylor with the Sky Bet League Two Trophy

“There is no time for sentiment or remembering the good times. It’s about taking the three points. “I’d expect my reception to be good [from Wimbledon supporters].

“I’ll have to remember not to celebrate, which is a strange one.

“You celebrate a goal, because it is a goal – it is one of the happy moments you have on a football pitch.

“It will be one of those split-second things where you have to kick back. I know professionally I want to celebrate, because I’ve just scored a goal, but emotionally I shouldn’t.
“Any goal I score I enjoy but I think it will be one where I have to enjoy it in the privacy of my own home.”




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