A TURBULENT wind would welcome him back about as gently as a Glesca kiss but it was all a breeze to Lyle Taylor.
It is almost six months since the striker left Falkirk for Sheffield United and he returned to Scotland this week eager to get back out in the elements after agreeing a loan move to Partick Thistle until the end of the season. He had started only a handful of matches in Sky Bet League 1 this season and return move has allowed Taylor to feel less sheltered already, making his debut on Wednesday in a defeat by Celtic.
That trend continued yesterday as he posed for pictures outside Firhill with just an inside-out umbrella to shield him from the storm. It would prove a bright moment under a darkening sky as photographers took advantage of the inclement weather, and perhaps the young striker too, to take a few colourful images. Many of the existing ones might have seemed a little dull due to their similarity; Taylor saluting one of the 29 goals he scored as part of a Falkirk side which finished third in the first division last season. The 23-year-old would find himself close to the top of Thistle's wanted list this month, too, and franked their judgment with an assured, intelligent display at Celtic Park.
Thistle are the lowest-scoring side in the SPFL Premiership alongside Hearts and sought to cast a more proficient striker during this month as a result. Taylor might have felt ill-prepared for such an audition - he played just nine minutes of football in December - but is likely to get a call-back when his new side travel to Tynecastle tomorrow. He has been obliged to reaffirm his ability quickly since he has joined a side whose patience has grown thin on a diet of just three league wins this season, although Taylor has not been inclined to grumble about his own circumstances following the sacking in October of David Weir by the Yorkshire club.
The striker has now retraced his steps back to Scottish football from the fringes at Bramall Lane, but would also retreat from his usual candour yesterday. "That's football," said Taylor, likely mindful that he has 18 months left on his contract at United. "I've been given a chance to play football and I'm a footballer, so that's what I'll do."
The Englishman was given to speak more expansively during his time at Falkirk, but his outlook has been narrowed by the demands of a loan. He is approaching his time at Thistle with the same clear purpose which wrought so many goals from in his last campaign in Scotland. "I've been given the chance to come and play games," said Taylor. "It didn't help [that Weir was sacked] but that is the game; managers come in, managers aren't deemed to be not doing well enough and managers get the sack, unfortunately. It is the same as a player coming to the end of a contract and not being given a new one. People come and people go and that's the nature of the beast."
It would bare its teeth as United slipped towards the lower end of League 1. Taylor had warmed to the intentions of the former Scotland captain, though, and he would take the temperature of Weir's tenure again yesterday, believing the club to have acted before the coach's methods could properly take effect.
Weir has taken a step back to become assistant at Brentford, a decision which has allowed for speculation about whether he will emerge as a manager again. It is a question qualified by his former striker. "I still think he can be a very good manager. If you're a good coach I don't think you are very far away from being a good manager as well."
He would apply the same logic to Thistle, too, having been impressed during league meetings last season and a challenging introduction to training this week. "I played them last season and all four times I'd say we got right, royally spanked," said the striker of a record that included a 4-1 defeat at Firhill. "Even when I came into training I didn't expect things to be as sharp as they were and I was a little taken aback. The standard of this league is good and it is good for me to be playing games and, hopefully, scoring some goals."
Taylor would then step boldly out into a storm. He is aware that Thistle have weathered a dry spell for long enough.