Southampton fans have taken to Twitter to heap praise on Shane Long, after the forward delivered an excellent performance in the 3-1 win against Aston Villa.
The Irish striker has recently worked his way back into the side, and was making his fourth consecutive Premier League start at Villa Park on Saturday having previously started just one league game all season.
Long, 32, is yet to score this season, but it is his tireless work rate and commitment to chasing apparent lost causes that makes him such a useful asset, while his efforts are appearing to help Danny Ings find the back of the net.
Ings netted his tenth and 11th Premier League goals of the campaign against Dean Smith’s men, with his first strike coming after Long burst through on goal and saw his effort parried into the former Liverpool man’s path.
The former Reading, West Brom and Hull marksman is proving to be an effective foil for Ings up top, as the England international has now netted four goals in the last four games that Long has also started in.
He may not be a prolific striker, but Long does a very important job for Ralph Hasenhuttl – these fans on Twitter are certainly in acknowledgement of what he brings to the side.
Can I just give a special mention to Shane Long today. If today didn’t prove he should start then he never will. Links so well with Ings, absolute terror to defenses always having someone running in behind and pressing. Defensively was brilliant. Live wire. #Saintsfc
— Josh 🇦🇹 (@Hasenhuttlera) December 21, 2019
Deserves so much praise after today. Links very well with Ings. There’s a reason he starts ahead of Che
— Myles (@Myles_SFC) December 21, 2019
These two fans highlighted the fact that Long links extremely well with Ings, with the first supporter piling the superlatives on the ageing striker – including phrases such as “live wire” and an “absolute terror” to defences.
Shane is the one!!!
Year after year people moan at him and make him a scapegoat. Ralph & the players know he’s the key outlet.
Ings is on fire, out & out goalscorer, fit, hungry and successful!!!!
— Will Potter (@pottsy02) December 21, 2019
Will Potter said that Long “is the one” while also claiming that Hasenhuttl and the players know how important the Republic of Ireland international is.
yes spot on been saying this since Ralph been here. its taken untill now for him to realise 👀
— daveee (@ajuicy9) December 22, 2019
Another fan said that they’ve been aware of how influential Long can be since Hasenhuttl arrived, but it’s taken until now for the former RB Leipzig boss to realise the asset he has on his hands.
People hating Shane Long before and during the game. It’s bizarre. He’s been excellent for us. Yes, can’t finish. But he does a lot more than just ‘running around a bit.’ Stretches defences and creates space for others. #saintsfc
— The Archers Road End (@ArchersRoadEnd) December 21, 2019
Once again, the superlatives were flying out of this supporter’s keyboard – Long was branded as “excellent” and also a player who “stretches defences and creates space for others”.
-Ings was terrific. natural goalscorer. Needs to be quicker making decisions on the break and look up more.
-Shane Long pivotal today helping Ings get into important positions.
-Jack Stephens looked confident
– Defenders need to stop giving the ball away with needless passes. https://t.co/9FCT3ZYakN
— SaintsNews&Views (@SaintsfcViews) December 21, 2019
Lastly, this fan said that Long was “pivotal” at Villa Park in helping Ings make his way into dangerous positions.
In other news, Southampton should stand by this Hasenhuttl flop amid interest from a Championship club…