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Can Shane Long Re-ignite His Saints Career Under Pellegrino ?
Friday, 7th Jul 2017 10:29

Shane Long was one of those who had cause to moan at the way he was treated by Claude Puel last season, can a change of manager bring a change of fortune ?

Shane Long was a key player in 2015/16 under Ronald Koeman and although he was in the shadow of Pelle and Sadio Mane in terms of headlines, his 10 goals in 23 starts plus 5 as sub were only skightly bettered than the Italian and much better than Mane's in terms of goals per game.

With both gone at the start of last season, Long had cause to hope that he might get more game time under new manager Claude Puel, especially since he seemed to fit the bill as the central attacker in a front three in terms of the mobility neeeded in Puel's system that Charlie Austin did not have and Nathan Redmond was not suited to0.

In the first half of the season Long struggled to get game time in the Premier League and when he did start and that was only ten times, he often found himself hauled off early in the second half.

His 22 sub appearances seemed to be late introductions when an under pressue Puel threw him on in a desperate attempt to score goals in the last ten minutes of a game.

However he let no one down and when he did complete 90 minutes Saints would often win a game or at least get a draw.

Indeed when he did score and as we know goalscorers need games and go on runs, he would often be dropped for the next game, take his winner at Liverpool in the EFL Cup, although he did start the next game, the Arsenal FA Cup debacle and then at Swansea when he scored again, he was dropped to the bench for the next game against West Ham.

Then after that he was sub at Sunderland, but scored in his 15 minute cameo at the end, he was when you add the FA Cup winner against Norwich Saints in form striker but he would barely get game time.

But this was no good to the player who having turned 30 in January could not afford to rot on the bench and with a possible World Cup coming up in 2018 this coming season is crucial to him.

If Puel had stayed then it was inevitable that the irishman would have had to leave the club.

But the arrival of Mauricio Pellegrino might just change all that, Saints do not lack firepower or attacking options, the likes of Long, Gabbiadini and Austin are all proven goalscorers capable of getting into double figures and when you add Nathan Redmond, Sofiane Boufal and perhaps Josh Sims into that mix, we have more than capable goal scoring prowess and I havent even included Dusan Tadic who looks set to go.

The issues last season were not a lack of goal scorers, but the system that was being played that saw us pass the ball around the half way line a lot, but not hit key passes with enough regularity to provide the strikers with chances.

When we did get the ball forward into the channels and quickly then it paid dividends, as it did at Middlesbrough when a quick Jordy Clasie ball found Long who got down to the line and pulled it back for Jay Rodrigues to fire home.

This was classic attacking Saints, the reward for the three players involved was to be dropped for the following week and indeed only J Rod got anymore game time in the final two games, although in fairness Long did suffer an injury that kept him out.

But with Puel gone Shane Long has spoken of his hopes for the coming season and in his own typical style he focuses on the positives and the future not the past.

Speaking to the Club's official site Long said.

“For me, last season was a bit disappointing,”

“I didn’t play as much as I would have liked to and felt I didn’t get the chances that I deserved at times, so I want to hit the ground running this year."

“It’s the first pre-season in a long time that I’ve been here from the start, so I want to show the manager what I have got and leave an impression on him come the start of the season.”

That suggests that he wants to stay and play for his place rather than seek a move elsewhere, at 30 although he still has plenty of suitors, the fact is that none of them offer as much as Saints could conceivably do.

Again this is a summer of transition for Saints but that could offer Long the chance to not only re ignite his career at St Mary's but in doing so give the new manager time to assess the squad and where it needs to be improved.

As I have mentioned the supporters will cry out for a goalscorer, that's natural fans of all club's demand that, but it should be remembered that the issues last season were not about replacing Pelle and Mane, the club had already been proactive in that department when they had signed Charlie Austin to replace the Italian before he had even left, but the fact that Puel just did not seem to want to keep changing things and fitting square pegs into round holes up front.

So good to see that Shane Long is raring to go, last season we were a good side being poorly lead, yet we still finished 8th, the squad is currently stronger than it was most of last season and there will be a few more signings to come yet, we need to tweak this squad and if Mauricio Pellegrino is as good as they claim, then this could be another very good year.

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darthvader added 10:54 - Jul 7
If he can stay injury free I don't see why he can't get 10+ goals, his pace is electric should well suit our hopefully high press and counter attacking style . Him gabbiadini Sims Redmond tadic all have pace ,and with our full backs bombing on too, for me this just seems exciting ,a little dangerous of course ,but exciting .

SaintNick added 11:09 - Jul 7
I think we have attacking options better than most clubs they were just poorly used last season

Sanguin added 11:12 - Jul 7
Long had an unlucky season last year too, I’d be interested to see stats on his conversion rate for last season compared to the season before. In particular I remember Arsenal away where he had two or three chances that you would expect him to score.

It reminds me of Pelle’s first season where I think he hit the bar more than any other player in the League, it seemed easy enough to improve those couple of inches of accuracy and he scored a lot more goals in the following season.

steve73 added 11:17 - Jul 7
I can see his qualities for sure but I have to say he's probably the most frustrating player I've ever watched.

TimSaint added 11:50 - Jul 7
He could barely buy a goal for us last season - often unlucky, choosing the wrong option, or not receiving a pass when in a better position than others.

In saying that though, he was part of the Saints Season of Penalty Shockers and perhaps had he scored from the spot away to Boro, he may have started the next game.

The whole team had some real damp squibs last season, but perhaps with a more attacking and less boring style of approach to games under the new regime, hopefully the players will flourish - and Long is certainly one of those that is capable.

IWOZTHERE added 12:04 - Jul 7
I think he was shabbily treated by CP in that his strengths weren't utilised. Too often he seemed like a 'fish out of the water', not a synchronised part of the 'system', which showed in the many 'offsides'. I think that was due to his team-mates not being in tune with him just as much as him going 'too early'.When Koeman started playing him regularly hewas a main focus and they obviously trained to that end. OK he's not a prolific scorer but he's not suddenly become a bad player?

Keesie66 added 12:09 - Jul 7
How many teams in the PL would like to have Shane Long in their squad/team???? Answer : 80-90% ... he provides us with so many options, we've just sold JR ..... Main man is Gaby off course but why would a partnership not work up front 4-4-2 .... 4-4-3 ..... lets be honest who are we gonna buy if Shane gets sold, Saints will not pay more than £20 million for a striker, who is available at that price and is better than Long???? Answers on a postcard please.....

Keesie66 added 12:10 - Jul 7
Correction 4-3-3 ..... just dreaming.....

SaintNick added 12:13 - Jul 7
Sanguin, interesting to read your perception of Pelle that his second season was much better than his first.

In his first he scored 12 Premier League goals in 37(1) appearances in his second 11 goals in 23(7)

A little inconclusive in that he scored more in the first season but played less games in the second

pete_boggs added 12:37 - Jul 7
Long has got pace but is a failure as a striker (no goals). He could be used perhaps on the wing if we had someone in the middle to head the ball in. But as we haven't it's time to sell him on and buy a new younger player with prospects, LES!

SonicBoom added 12:38 - Jul 7
Long has useful qualities but I dont believe he will ever make himself first choice. He might get a run of games, but ultimately he is going to be an impact player here. If he wants to play more than that he will have to leave

Jesus_02 added 12:51 - Jul 7
Long was very badly managed by CP. He had a good showing at the Euro's and came back with bags of confidence only for that to evaporate under very conservative possession hungry defense minded leadership

kenis added 13:09 - Jul 7
Those saying Long should be sold because he's never going to be prolific are wrong. The advantage to the team when Long plays is he stretches the opposition and creates space and chances for the other strikers or midfielders if he's on his own up front. Defences have to either risk the ball over the top and hold a high line looking for offside or they have to drop deeper and deeper leaving space for us to play. When in the final third he can pull players out of position leaving space in the middle or wide for the full backs and is pretty good in the air so they can never leave him. Real asset to the team and will make goals for others even if he doesn't get on the asset charts or get loads of goals himself. Yes his touch and finishing aren't the best in the world sometimes but if they were he'd be £60m plus!

kenis added 13:12 - Jul 7
Add in under a high pressing system he can either force errors at the back or force teams to hoof it up he's a great player to have. It only works though if the whole team play that way, and the 4-1-2-1-2 diamond with patient possession based build up is not suited to him, unless you are playing for 0-0 and expecting him to run himself into the ground chasing lost causes so when he dies get a chance he's knackerd snyway!

BoondockSaint added 14:05 - Jul 7
"The issues last season were not a lack of goal scorers."??

If my maths are correct, just in the Premier League games alone, there were 18 games where if we could have just scored one goal or one more goal, we would have got a win or a draw! Yes the system was bad, but finishing was not up to par, and Long was not the only one at fault there.

That's training ground stuff, just like penalties and set pieces. If Eric Black was in charge of that last year, expect more of the same.

helpineedsomebody added 20:29 - Jul 7
if is the biggest word in golf
if only i had pared the 18th i would have had a 69
& won the monthly medal

Big_T added 22:16 - Jul 7
I think long is a great squad player, and he proved his quality when jrod scored last season Long was genuinely delighted for his team mate and you can see that others really like him.
Yes he didn't have the best of seasons but he also didn't have a summer off, at 30 he is a quick intelligent player who lost sharpness without a recharge over a summer. ("I think")

SaintBrock added 16:13 - Jul 9
As long as ignite is not followed by a flash and a bang and then nothing else.

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