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Have West Brom Made A Terrible Transfer Mistake?
Footytubeblog (Blog) 2 years ago
How many goals is enough? Two is normally enough to win most games. But you can never have too many goals. Goals are one of those things that we can't get enough of.

For midfielders, 10 goals a season is always seen as a good haul. If you can reach double figures from that far back on the pitch, you’ll be doing well. For strikers, 20 is the magic number. 20 goals in one season; that’s the mark of a good striker.

Shane Long once scored 20 goals in one season. He scored 25, in fact. It was while playing for Reading in 2010/11, when the team went as far as the Championship play-off final, only to be beaten by Swansea.

Long was the man. His form contradicted all that had gone before, and it seemed that the striker had become what he’d never before threatened to be: the 20-goal-a-season-man.

West Bromwich Albion had been watching. And one game into the following season, they’d seen enough. The club paid Reading £4.5m for his services and the hope that he’d score enough goals to keep them in the Premier League. While the team achieved survival, Long’s eight goals were not deemed to be enough. And this would become something of a theme at West Brom.

By January this year, the club had become frustrated with Long. Odemwingie’s career had taken a turn for the bizarre. Lukaku was now at Everton via Chelsea. This was the forward’s year to finally step up. The club had been patient for his first two seasons in the Premier League. Now they wanted goals.

And Long dutifully obliged with three.

Three goals? That wasn’t enough. That wasn’t even nearly enough. When Hull City expressed their interest, West Brom were more than willing to listen, and by the end of January the Midlands club would be laughing all the way to the bank with a cool £7million.

But Long has been on good form since moving to Hull. He appears to be forming a promising partnership with other January import Nikica Jelavic, and has already managed to double his tally for the season. But goals have never been what the Irishman’s game is about. He’s always been an un-striking striker.

The main reason that Shane Long doesn’t score that many goals is that he doesn’t shoot that often. In his first season with West Brom, Long averaged 1.2 shots per game. And in his second he made 1.4 attempts on average. This season, the ratio increased to 1.7 shots a game, but this is still very low for a centre-forward.

His current striking partner, Jelavic, has managed 4.4 shots a game since moving to Hull. And the league’s top goalscorer, Luis Suarez, takes on average 5.7 shots every game.

But Long’s play has always been uncharacteristically selfless for a forward. He runs a lot, but rarely towards the opposition goal. His closing down of defenders is admirable and he likes to make runs into the channels in order to find space. This movement is useful in that it offers his team an ‘out-ball’, but invariably reduces the chances of him scoring himself.

So if Long’s style of play is the opposite to what we’d expect from a traditional centre-forward, it’s unfair to judge him by conventional standards. You can’t expect a player to score 20 goals a season when he’s only managing one shot a game. You have to judge him on what he does do, not what he doesn’t. And what Long does do, he does quite well.

It’s too early to judge how successful Long’s move to Hull will be, but the early signs are certainly promising. Selling your main forward to a relegation rival was a dangerous move by West Bromwich Albion, but they may have felt safe given his poor goalscoring record.

However, Long shouldn’t be judged on goals alone. There’s much more to his game than this. Pairing the un-striker striker with a poacher in Jelavic has brought the best out of both. And it looks like this will be enough to keep Hull City in the Premier League.

West Brom may have felt they got a deal for a striker who’s yet to score consistently at the highest level.

However, £7m won’t feel a lot if the club are playing their football in the Championship next year.

This blog does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of footytube or its partners.

Sam (Footytube Moderator) 2 years ago
For such a low shot rate, his conversion rate is amazing. In my opinion, any striker should WANT to take shots at goal, and not be shot-shy. Given that his numbers have stayed statistically low over several seasons, it would indicate a player problem, not a team or club problem. His managers should be trying to coerce that desire to shoot out of him, regardless of what the outcome of those shots are. It does wonders for player confidence, and it will only make him a better player.

Did West Brom make a poor choice? Yes. Absolutely. Shane Long has long(no pun intended) garnered the respect of his peers and it was only going to be a matter of time until he came good.... Selling him to a relegation rival without an adequate replacement in place.... No good

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