Reading Interested In Shane Long Return
Friday, 3rd Jun 2022 08:55
Shane Long is out of contract at St Mary's this summer and is future is unclear, however his former club Reading are said to be interested in bringing him back to the Madjeski Stadium next season.
Shane Long received some unfair criticism from some sections of the Saints fan base last season, but the fact of the matter is that he played a part in our season.
These days it is a squad game and that means that not every players has to be vying for a place in the starting line up every week.
Shane Long's role has changed over the past few years, in cricket they have what are known as Death Bowlers who bowl the last over or two in a one day game with their job not so much to take wickets but to make sure the batting side don't score too many runs.
Long's role at Saints has developed into the footballing equivalent, to come on in the game's final stages and close things down.
That means defending from the front, harassing the opposition back four and not allowing them to play forward, it also means winning the ball and holding it up, drawing fouls and generally not allowing the other team to get the ball forward.
It is something that none of the other strikers could do, it doesn't register as goals do, Long's stats will not look good in that respect, but his primary role last season was not to score goals, but to do the job mentioned above.
Those who were at Crystal Palace Spurs or Leeds will know what I mean, Long barely played before Xmas, when we went to Selhurst Park on December 15th, this was only his second Premier league outing of the season, indeed many wondered why we took Armando Broja off and brought on Long, but the reason became clear and Ralph Hasenhuttl had recognised that we need to learn to close out games.
That was the case at home to Everton where with 6 minutes left and only a slender 1-0 lead on came Long to close out the game replacing Armando Broja who for all his talents in attacking play, has not yet learned to defend from the front, Long's arrival though had an unexpected bonus when with his first touch he headed a second goal and sealed a great win.
His contract expires at the end of this month and at the moment it is unclear where he will be next season, personally I would like to see Saints offer him another deal, although he is now 35 he still has something to offer and as I say it is a squad game.
But if he doesn't stay at Southampton it seems that one of his old club's may offer him a contract, Long played for the Royals when he first arrived in England from Cork in 2005 aged just 18, he spent 6 years at the Madjeski starting 97 games and coming off the bench 79 times in the League, earning a move to West Brom followed by a short spell at Hull before arriving at St Mary's in 2014.
Shane Long has been a great signing for Saints and has given good service, he has provided some genuine brilliant moments, not least the goal at Anfield in 2017 when the goal he scored wasn't crucial in taking us to Wembley for the League Cup Final, but sealed our aggregate win, anyone who was there that night treasures that moment when the ball hit the net and we knew we were in a cup final.
Some don't appreciate Long, but whatever he does next season we should wish him well, not just for what he did for us in his prime, but for his role in the season just gone.
Photo: Action Images
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