Will West Brom regret selling him?

In an almost predictable turn of events, Hull City striker Shane Long netted in the recent 2-0 victory over former club West Bromwich Albion.

Considering the Baggies’ current goal-scoring woes, it seems odd that the Irishman was allowed to leave so easily. Having tried and failed to sign the striker in the summer, Steve Bruce returned and finally got his man for a fee believed to be in the region of £7million.

Already Bruce’s decision to splash the cash on Long and Nikica Jelavic looks as though it may pay dividends in Hull’s bid to beat the drop. Although it has only been a few months, the Tigers’ new strike partnership looks to have already developed a good understanding and both have already hit the back of the net on several occasions.

The same cannot be said of West Brom’s current attacking options. Youngster Saido Berahino currently sits atop their goalscoring chart with just four in the league this season. The likes of Victor Anichebe and Matej Vydra have failed to fill the goalscoring void left by last season’s loan star Romelu Lukaku.

Bearing in mind these troubles in front of goal, the decision to sell a proven Premier League goalscorer, especially to a relegation rival, continues to baffle.

Of course, the fact that West Brom were offered such a substantial fee for a player with just six months left on his contract could suggest that they’ve actually performed a smart piece of business. But by not reinvesting that money in a replacement, the club are risking their Premier League status in a move which doesn’t make so much financial sense.

The reason the club found themselves in such an unenviable situation was because contract negotiations with the player had broken down. Obviously it is difficult to determine the true reasons behind such an impasse, but Long’s comments whilst he was still at the Hawthorns prove very telling.

When asked about a move in the January window, the striker stated he was settled in the area yet suggested that “if a club doesn’t want you, what’s the point in staying?”

According to reports, contract negotiations broke down in the Spring of last year and no further offers were said to have been presented to the player. The manner in which the Irishman was transferred mid-season and the apparent lack of activity on a new contract hardly suggests Albion were eager to keep the striker.

Bearing this all in mind, why did West Brom not want Shane Long? Although he isn’t the most prolific goalscorer in the division, his endeavour and running off the ball posed a problem to most defences. And it isn’t like any of Albion’s other forward options have demonstrated a ruthless streak in front of goal.

The rumour mill hasn’t churned out anything to suggest that Long was a disruptive influence or was agitating for a move. Something may have happened behind closed doors that would shed light upon the decision. But from a footballing perspective, the sale is difficult to fathom.

It is a transfer that has even been questioned publicly by figures at the Hawthorns.

After Saturday’s defeat, Ben Foster candidly spoke on the matter and surprisingly stated that “sometimes I think why did we let him go to be honest with you.” The goalkeeper described the striker as “one of our best players from the last couple of years” and that “it’s disappointing that he’s no longer here.”

Manager Pepe Mel echoed this sentiment when asked about Long, admitting that he would have preferred to have kept the striker at the club.

Obviously it would be impossible to speculate upon the West Brom’s fortunes if Long was still at the club. But judging by the Irishman’s performances for his new club, the striker would certainly offer more than any of the Baggies’ current options.

Which begs the question, why didn’t West Brom want Shane Long?