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Friday 17 August 2018

Long: 'It's wrong to blame the boss on Saints' plight'

Southampton’s Shane Long. Photo: Reuters
Southampton’s Shane Long. Photo: Reuters

Shane Long insists Southampton's under pressure manager Mauricio Pellegrini is not responsible for the club's slide into the relegation zone.

Tuesday night's 2-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace saw the Saints slip further down the table, just one place above the bottom three, despite Ireland striker Long netting his first goal in 325 days.

By the final whistle their supporters were chanting for Pellegrino's dismissal.

They have not won since November, become contenders for relegation but Tipperary-born Long insists the Argentinian is not to blame.

"It is nice to get that goal but it counted for nothing in the end," said the 30-year-old.

"In the second half Palace came at us. Naturally you drop off and try and hold onto your lead and that cost us.

"Confidence is low and the sooner the win comes the better. We know it is frustrating for the fans but we need them more than ever.

"It's on the players heads as well. We cannot put it on the manager, everyone has to take a bit of the blame."

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace's Luka Milivojevic is relishing a proper night's sleep after struggling to cope with his penalty miss against Manchester City.

Sleep

The midfielder's fine 80th-minute finish secured all three points at Southampton, two days after his poorly-struck stoppage-time penalty was saved by Ederson to cost Palace victory in a 0-0 draw.

Christian Benteke had earlier this season missed a spot-kick when ignoring team instructions, taking one instead of Milivojevic, which increased scrutiny on the Serbian's efforts.

He revealed that after missing against City he had struggled to sleep, but his goal at Southampton took Palace to within two points of 11th and ensured they continued the upward trajectory Roy Hodgson has inspired since his arrival.

"It was very hard to be honest, it is hard to sleep after that," said the 26-year-old of the penalty against City.

"I felt very bad. But there was a very important game in front of us. It was hard to come back after 1-0 down. Once again we showed character and we won. I tried to forget that but it is not easy. We needed these points.

"(Hodgson and my team-mates) gave me support. I have to thank them. No one said nothing negative. I scored five in a row; I missed one and that happened only because I changed my decision. I did not feel big pressure.

"In the end I wanted to shoot in the middle but I shot bad. I will sleep much better than the last two nights, that is for sure.

"I have to say a big thanks to the fans. When I missed the penalty they were singing my name, and gave me enormous support."

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