Three reasons why Shane Long’s Southampton move is a good one
Trevor Murray puts forward three reasons why Shane Long's £12m move to Southampton is a good one
New era, new possibilities
With official confirmation of Shane Long’s big-money move to Southampton from Hull City on a four-year deal arriving on Thursday afternoon, fans of the Saints might feel a little more relaxed about the start of the new season. And although his most recent term playing in the top-flight resulted in just seven league goals, fans of the Irish striker will know he has what it takes to thrive at a new club. Since his meteoric rise from the League of Ireland where he once plied his trade with Cork City, Long has served three different clubs over a period of nine years, moving up the tiers slowly. So it’s clear the one thing he requires at this point in time is a stable stint as a reliable front-man to get himself back to his goal-poaching best, and his move to Southampton might just be exactly that. No stranger to scoring big goals against top sides, the 27-year-old’s CV boasts memorable strikes against England, Manchester United, Chelsea and more – he has the right mentality for the high-stakes, low expectation matches, and that’s something Southampton could certainly do with. Widely regarded as far more adept at sticking away goals in the Championship due to his good spell with Reading where he amassed over 50 goals during his time, or in Ireland’s Premier Division as a teenager, many have questioned the £12m Ronald Koeman and his board have shelled out on securing his services. But if he can stand up and be counted from day one, against teams with similar league objectives, the St. Mary’s faithful will be happy with their investment. And what better teams to prove your credentials against than the mighty Liverpool in a season opener, and former club West Bromwich Albion a week later?
It will give his international career a vital shot in the arm
As a striker, goals are something anathema to the whole team; they are the actions that put the finishing touch to sweeping moves and glorious plays and they have the capacity to cement a team’s qualifications. Of course, other times forwards can win games all on their own, although it often takes a very special type of player to do so. For the national team, that player has been Robbie Keane for as long as many supporters of the Green Army care to remember – but although he has scored the most international goals out of all players currently active in the world with 62 in total – there is no doubt that the MLS-based star is coming towards the tail-end of his career. But having secured a really positive move to a club with slightly more ambitious objectives, Long could well be on his way to finally replace Keane as their go-to source of goals. The managerial duo of Martin O’ Neill and Roy Keane currently in charge of guiding them to France 2016 will be keeping a close eye on the former Reading man’s performances, and if he manages to reach, or even exceed, the expectations they have of him for now, he’ll likely lead the line in their first international home match against minnows Gibraltar in October.
Saints’s respectable core will improve given time & smart transfers
The mass exodus of payers from Southampton has sparked many to question just how prepared they are for life in the top-flight. A long list of key players have all departed for pastures new and more exhilarating, leaving Southampton, for now at least, a lot worse off than they were at the start of last season. But all is certainly not lost. And Long’s decision to join a vastly depleted pool of players, on closer inspection, remains a well thought-out one; it’s calculated. With a managerial record stretching back 17 years and an uber-successful career as a player under his belt where he won the European Cup twice with both PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona, his mentality to win trophies and to continue to strive towards bigger and better things is sure to be a great source of inspiration from the dugout. And with a rather large transfer kitty now at his disposal, he can work on how and where to improve the squad he’s inherited. Because, in truth, they still have a number of quality players left such as Victor Wanyama, Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez, who can all produce big performances on their day. And in choosing to splash the cash on Long, they’ve sent out a signal to both fans and their new player that they mean business, and they believe the plucky Irish man can help them transform once again. And while the weight of expectation might seem rather burdensome, it has all the hallmarks of a responsibility that will fortify rather than crush.