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Throughout his career, Shane Long has played for four different Premier League clubs following his departure from Cork City in 2005. However, despite being a constant feature in England’s top flight, his contributions often go under the radar among spectators. So, is Long one of the most underrated players to ever play in the Premier League?
It’s a testament to Long’s application and professionalism that he has enjoyed a career that has mostly consisted of Premier League football. That said, the Irishman did a period of his earlier years in English football battling to either avoid relegation from the top tier or instead gain promotion from the Championship. It was during this time, however, that the now 33-year-old was able to showcase his goalscoring prowess.
During his six-year spell at Reading, the forward found the net on 54 occasions, in addition to assisting a further 29 goals in 199 matches. However, following his transfer to West Brom, Long’s role altered slightly as his stats highlight a slight decline in his numbers in front of goal. Upon joining the Baggies in 2011, Long has since moved on to play for both Hull City and Southampton in England’s top flight, with his best campaign regarding goals coming back in 2015-16, where he scored ten times in 28 games for the Saints.
While there can be no doubts that Long hasn’t been the most clinical forward to ever grace the Premier League, few players can boast to have made 313 appearances in one of the world’s most competitive leagues. Fundamentally, this is what Long should be judged on. In addition to chipping in with vital goals, his longevity is a prime example of his unquestionable professionalism and commitment to the sport.
A Favoured Option Wherever He Goes
Furthermore, the total number of top-flight games that Long has featured in throughout his career also highlight his on-field abilities, along with his ability to react to the demands of various managers. Including caretaker managers, the 33-year-old has played under six different managers during his spell at Saint Mary’s, featuring regularly under each of them.
Despite the tactical differences between Claude Puel, Mauricio Pellegrino, Mark Hughes, and Ralph Hasenhuttl, for example, Long has always been able to retain his place in the side, irrespective of the desired style of play. Crucially, Southampton’s current manager, Hasenhuttl, credits Long as being a pivotal factor in the club’s revival, as they were no longer among the favourites for relegation with Space Casino football betting prior to the suspension of the season.
Even though Danny Ings has been grabbing the headlines for his impressive form in front of goal, Long’s high-pressure approach to football has made him a perfect option for the Saints’ Austrian manager. At RasenBallsport Leipzig, Hasenhuttl would utilise Yussef Poulsen’s off-the-ball work rate to help get the best out of Timo Werner, an approach which has thus far served him well in the South East.
A Career Worthy of Appreciation
While Long may not be the most entertaining to watch regarding his on-the-ball skills, his contributions to football certainly make his career one that deserves more respect. At the time of writing, Long has featured heavily in 12 Premier league campaigns, a record that few players can match, let alone surpass, showcasing just how underrated the Irishman has become.