Opinion

Mark Hughes needs more from Southampton striker Shane Long

Mark Hughes needs more from Southampton striker Shane Long

Southampton supporters have been pretty quiet in recent times after seeing their side throw-away a two-goal lead in the Premier League on Monday night.

Mark Hughes’ men went into their meeting with South Coast rivals Brighton off the back of their first win of the season over Crystal Palace last time out, and they looked on course for back-to-back successes when they opened up a 2-0 lead at St Mary’s on Monday night. Goals from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Danny Ings gave the Saints a comfortable advantage over Chris Hughton’s side, only for responses from Shane Duffy and Glenn Murray to secure a 2-2 draw for the Seagulls, much to the frustration of the St Mary’s faithful.

Thus, there have been many disappointed and dissatisfied Southampton fans up and down the country in recent times, with several wondering exactly how their side were unable to see the game out despite having such a strong advantage.

And one man who is likely to come in for some criticism is striker Shane Long, and with fellow forward Ings ineligible to face parent club Liverpool next weekend, the £60,000-a-week (as per Spotrac) Irishman really needs to buck his ideas up.

The 31-year-old made the move to St Mary’s back in 2014 after a short and ultimately frustrating stint at Hull City, and the striker has since been nothing more than a bit-part player on the South Coast in starting just 85 times for the Saints, coming on as a substitute on 71 occasions.

And while there is little doubting that the former Reading striker offers huge amounts of energy and tenacity when leading from the front, his goal-scoring record is simply not good enough at the moment, what with the Republic of Ireland international netting just 27 times in 156 games for the club.

And with just five Premier League goals to show for his last 65 appearances in the top-flight, it is surely getting to the point whereby Hughes cannot continue to select the 31-year-old, despite what else he offers besides putting the ball in the back of the net.

And his frailties in front of goal were evidenced again on Monday night given the forward failed to convert some very presentable chances to kill the game off for the home side – and with Ings missing next weekend against Liverpool, Hughes has something of a problem in terms of leading the line.

Long will likely get the nod given he will provide the Saints with an outlet, be it holding the ball up or helping to launch counter attacks, but there is no doubting that Hughes needs the striker to buck his ideas up in front of goal if Southampton are to indeed move up the Premier League table this season.

Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!

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