About two weeks ago Roy Hodgson said that West Bromwich Albion’s deal for Shane Long was “potentially the bargain of the season.”
Shane Long moved from Reading in the Championship to the Baggies for a fee of £4.5 million (potentially rising to £6.5million). Although this may be a small sum for many of the top teams, it was rather a lot by West Brom’s standards to spend on one player. For proof, look at the other signings West Brom made last transfer window: a free transfer for Billy Jones and another free transfer for Gary McAuley. Hodgson is not a man to fork out the cash and the Baggies aren’t a club with excess money to spend.
One important thing to remember is Shane Long’s age, only 24. Long is a young player just coming into his physical prime and West Brom have him tied down on a three year deal — straight through his best years. Unlike the Baggies star signing last year in Peter Odemwingie, now 30 years old, Long is a player on which they can build for the future. Should Long perform in the top-tier of English football, West Brom will have secured a brilliant long term signing.
However, is Shane Long still a bargain? The initial signs were good: a goal on his debut against title holder sMan United and another the following game against ever-strong Chelsea had the Hawthorns immediately chanting his name.
However, following that burst at the start of the season, Long seemed to come off the boil a little. Great chances came his way against Swansea but Long failed to put his name on the scoresheet. After a quick goal against Sunderland, however, Long has come back to life.
Against Wolves this past weekend Long played out of his skin. His name may not have been on the scoresheet but his general play was outstanding. This fact was recognised by the poll on the WBA webpage voting Long as man of the match. A reward he very much deserved. He used his pace to terrorize the Wolves defence, chasing down what most people would consider impossible balls. He made Roger Johnson look downright slow at times. His ability to hold the ball up was also outstanding, showing an upper body strength that doesn’t seem to match his incredible speed. The ball would be cleared long by the Baggies defense and almost without fail Shane Long would be there to collect it and use it; a valuable attribute indeed.
Shane Long’s display earned him credit from the fans, manager and pundits alike. However is he the bargain of the season? I guess we will have to wait and see. However if he continues at this rate he may well surpass team mate Odemwingie’s brilliant first season in the Premier League. If he continues at this rate he could be the signing of the season. After all, £4.5 million is not too much of a debt to pay back to his club. Having said that, we will have to wait and see. The English Premier League season is a marathon, not a sprint.