Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has slammed Shane Long for a “disappointing” performance in Southampton’s 2-1 defeat to Cardiff City at St Mary’s on Saturday.
Long, 32, was largely ineffective against Neil Warnock’s solid defence and he was hooked by Ralph Hasenhuttl in the 72nd minute to be replaced by Charlie Austin, who then assisted Jack Stephens’ goal.
The Irish forward has had rather a frustrating spell on the south coast, and Nicholas did not shy away from criticising his display this weekend.
“Shane Long’s been rather quiet today,” said Nicholas on Sky Sports News’ Gillette Soccer Saturday on February 9 [04:07pm].
“He’s running into corners but his final ball across has been pretty disappointing and that’s why we’ve hardly had any attempts on goal.”
Southampton should avoid relegation this season but Ralph Hasenhuttl needs to stop playing Long because when you have a striker playing up front who can’t score, you’re effectively shooting yourself in the foot. To be fair to Long, he has never been a goalscorer. The former West Brom and Reading striker has only scored 28 goals in 172 total appearance since joining the Saints from Hull in 2014, so expecting him to be able to find the net against a resolute Cardiff side was always a tough shout. Austin came off the bench and at least set up Stephens’ goal, which was more than what Long did over an hour of play. Hasenhuttl should be starting Austin whenever he gets the chance from now on because at least he has proven in his career that he can score regularly if he is in the right form. Major investment is needed in the summer to sort out this attack because the Saints are going to be in a relegation battle again next term if they don’t.