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Koeman Hails Indispensable Shane Long
Sunday, 14th Feb 2016 21:15

Ronald Koeman has paid tribute to Saints striker Shane Long after the Irish striker marked another hard working game by scoring the winning goal at Swansea City.

Ronald Koeman has praised Shane Long after his match winning performance at Swansea City.

Shane Long is one of those players who is sometimes under appreciated by supporters, when he arrived there were those who felt his record did not justify his £12 million fee.

Those fans were a little short sighted, Long's fee was about right when comparing his goal scoring record with other players who have been transferred for around the same amount, but Long brings a lot more to the party and last season his hard work was vital in creating chances for others, the home win against Aston Villa is best known for the hat trick by Sadio Mane, but it was Long who scored two goals on the day and was involved in the build up to the others who was truly the man of the match that day.

This season started with Long again struggling to get much game time despite the fact he scored not only against Vitesse but the first Premier League game against Newcastle, but he has hung on in there and with the injury to Pelle truly made himself hard to drop.

The goal at Swansea put him joint top scorer with Pelle with 6 Premier League goals apiece and 3 in other competitions, both players now having 9 in total.

Now with Pelle struggling tp find his form after injury and Sadio Mane way out of sorts, Ronald Koeman has spoken of Shane Long and how he has stepped up to the plate and helped kick start Saints season just as it looked dead and buried.

“I think he deserves to start because he’s working hard,”

“He’s complaining defenders. He’s always on the move. He’s always running. He’s very dangerous."

“That’s the reason every time I start with Shane. Okay, with the signing of Charlie we have big competition. Today, I had Charlie, I had Tadic, Mane on the bench."

“But that’s what we really like to have because a strong squad makes progress and makes competition. Even if the decisions that I have to make are very difficult.”

“Every player needs to give the best of himself. For that he needs competition. That’s normal and we like to have this competition because this makes the team really strong.”

"We play a little bit different at the moment,” Koeman explained.

“We don’t play with three in front. We play with two strikers.

“That’s one why he (Mane) did not start today and in the last few weeks he was a little bit struggling.

“A little bit struggling in his performances. He was working hard, but really what he can do and what he can show for the team was not like that.”

Certainly Ronald Koeman must be very happy at the moment with his attacking options, the defence is now looking good, but he knows that Saints need to score more if they are to mount a real challenge for a top six finish and indeed higher.

But he has a plethora of attacking options who all offer something different and that could count in Saints favour

Photo: Action Images

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SaintBrock added 22:01 - Feb 14
You are correct in stating that we need to score more goals but how is the big question. Our new found winning habit and confidence is based on having created a near impregnable defence but we are so oriented on defensive cohesion that how to build genuine attacks without damaging that cohesion will prove a challenge for quite obvious reasons, players can't be thinking of two things to do at once or be in two places at once.

If you are primarily thinking about the man or zone you are marking how can you then desert that post as it were and go foraging upfield on a different attacking mission?

The conundrum is there to be seen every week, Chelsea and Liverpool can score virtually at will but are completely hopeless in defence. Saints are almost now the opposite. The clubs that solve this puzzle will do very well and will deserve to do so.

SonicBoom added 10:25 - Feb 15
IMO if you are going to be really tight defensively then you need to be really fast on the counter to compensate.
That's why playing Pelle isnt working right now.

bstokesaint added 12:28 - Feb 15
When my boys are older and playing football themselves I am going to make sure I explain to them that whilst it's nice to be the next Messi or Neymar (as virtually every youngster aspires to be), there are players like Shane Long that will always be loved for the effort they put in and their never say die attitude to so-called lost causes. Not everyone possesses incredible ball skills, but every football player can work hard and not give up the chance to win a corner or free kick out of what may seem like nothing. I think Shane Long's effort and attitude is commendable and it's nice to see him getting some more plaudits for that, paticularly from some parties who questionned his price tag. He must be a defender's worst nightmare. I love seeing him and Mane stretch defences all over the park.

IWOZTHERE added 13:29 - Feb 15
I'm no Pelle 'basher' but the fact is that our good run started when he was injured and RK was forced to change the system. We'd been dominating games, but for whatever reason, couldn't put the ball in the net. When he changed it, although we were set up more defensively, our front players had space to run into and the goals/results started coming. Now Pelle's back, it's changed again and the last couple of games have seen us overtly defensive, going backwards more, with a lot of humping the ball upfield more in hope than by design? The number of incisive through balls seem to be drying up.
I don't blame Pelle for this (although he IS off colour), but it seems more than just co-incidence. The results are brilliant but for them to continue against the likes of Chelsea he'll have do do a bit of 'tinkering'.

halftimeorange added 16:47 - Feb 15
I must admit that I've changed my view of Shane Long from being a bit part player to a must start attacker. Like Steven Davis he worries and worries the opposing defence with his speed and jumping both of which which make up for his slightly limited ability and occasional poor shot/pass selection. I don't think the Pelle/Long combination works. I'd rather see a Long/Austin partnership for a whole game, perhaps against Chelsea with their rather pedestrian back four.

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