It’s been seven years, 212 days and 37 minutes since Shane Long last found the net. Generations have passed Harry Kane has scored 21 hat-tricks since. Countless students have ‘found themselves’ on a gap year in the Far East and have returned to find that the boy still hasn’t scored a goal. Lives have been lived. Dreams achieved.
Okay, all that was a bit harsh on a personal hero of mine. Not many men can play the guitar so gracefully, look so handsome and score a bloody good goal against world champions Germany in a Euro 2016 qualifier. What a hit it was. Hearts were in mouths as that long, hopeless ball forward landed on the deck in front of the Irishman, before he galloped onto it and, after one glorious touch of the ball with his left shin, smashed it past the mountain that is Manuel Neuer. Not many men can do that, but Shane Long is no ordinary man.
Truthfully, and somewhat incredibly, the lad hasn’t scored for Southampton since he buried one in a 4-0 win at Sunderland way back in February 2017, and just to add insult to injury, his last Ireland goal came in a 3-1 win at Moldova alllllll the way back in October 2016. Doesn’t sound too long ago, but remember it’s 2018 now isn’t it? Also, no disrespect to either Sunderland or Moldova, but the former now sit 21st in the Championship, while the latter sit comfortably in 167th in the FIFA World Rankings, so it’s fair to say our Shane hasn’t found the net against the crème de la crème…
He’s certainly had his chances this season, but then again so has his fellow forward Manolo Gabbiadini who, let’s face it, hasn’t been Messi-like either. This isn’t surprising however given the fact that the club change their starting striker every 30 seconds; if you score, you’re in, just ask Charlie Austin…until you get yourself suspended of course.
It is however terrifically harsh to place all the blame on the poor boy, it must be tough getting out of bed every day knowing that you play for one of the most boring football teams going, a side that have bagged just 20 goals this campaign, fewer than the high-rollers Stoke City and Bournemouth, although that part may actually be down to Shane himself…Southampton used to be a side everyone adored, playing beautiful football through some of the most talented ballers going. Luckily Stevie Davis and Sofiane Boufal are still there to do bits every week, as are Pep’s main man Nathan Redmond and to be fair Gabbiadini is a man not hot right now, but certainly has his tekkers.
Southampton fans may never forgive their forward for continuously failing to deliver time after time, but Ireland fans all over the world will only have love for their golden boy who downed the Germans on that glorious night in Dublin not so long ago.
His tireless efforts for both club and country in all competitions last season rewarded him with only six goals in 52 appearances, while the same conditions for this campaign have yielded a big fat zero goals in 19 appearances. It’s a heart-breaking situation really, given that the lad gives his all every game and is no doubt a genuinely lovely guy. Here’s to a better 2018 for a man with electric pace and beautiful face.