Thursday 22 March 2018

Shane: I'll work hard to regain Baggies place

THEY'RE not the giant killers, they are the manager slayers.

In the past few weeks, teams who came up against Shane Long's West Brom side, and lost, tended to react by sacking their manager. Mick McCarthy got the elbow from Wolves after a horrific 5-1 derby defeat to WBA and the Boing-Boing Baggies bounced Andre Villas-Boas out of the Chelsea job with victory last weekend.

A good omen ahead of this weekend's trip to play Manchester United, then? Long jokes that Alex Ferguson's job is probably safe no matter what Long and his team-mates do to Manchester United, but his club's run of getting managers the boot is no laughing matter.

"I wouldn't like to see us get that reputation of just being a bogey team for managers who then get the sack. I hope we can keep winning games and keep up the pressure on other managers but not to see them sacked," Long told the Evening Herald.

"I honestly didn't think Chelsea would sack Villas Boas just after our game last weekend.

"We knew there would be pressure on him but I thought they'd give him more time, but maybe when you're at a club like Chelsea, losing to a club like West Brom isn't good enough.

"It was harsh to get rid of him after only eight months in the job.

"The fans enjoy wins like that, especially when we beat Wolves 5-1. To me, it's just about getting a result and I don't like to see anyone losing their job.

"Somehow I doubt we'll get rid of Alex Ferguson. We have performed well, we have caught teams at a good time and managed to take advantage of it."

Sadly for Long, he is likely to see little action at Old Trafford on Sunday as he's been reduced to a substitute's role in recent weeks, having lost his place in the side before Christmas due to injury and been unable to get back in.

"I don't think I will have a chance of starting on Sunday, not after we beat Chelsea last week. I can't have complaints. We are doing well at the moment, everyone at the club wants to start so I'll keep working hard in training," says Long, who was back in Ireland -- and his native county of Tipperary yesterday -- speaking to the Herald in the clubhouse of St Michael's FC, the Tipp town club which helped Long on the way to his current status as an international and Premier League player.

"I can't go knocking on the manager's door when we're winning 5-1 and 4-0 and beating Chelsea. I am on the bench and ready to go. When called upon, I know I'll be ready to make the position my own again.


"We're in great form at the moment, we beat Wolves 5-1, beat Sunderland 4-0 and now we've beaten Chelsea as well. That run of form takes the pressure off. You don't need to get a point out of the game so we can go out there and enjoy ourselves."

The relief for Long is that he's just playing, as two health problems late last year caused concern and he's had to brush up his vocabulary, learning new medical terms like pericarditis and pars defect. The latter, a back complaint, is being cured by regular exercise but a heart condition was a scare.

"I had a swelling around my heart, pericarditis it's called," he reflects.

"It was a bit of a fright at the time and it took two weeks for the swelling to go down. When you don't know what it is you start thinking all sorts but it was easily treatable.

"I thought it was a digestive problem at first, I got it on a Saturday morning before a game. I came off the bench but couldn't really breathe or run properly. I knew there was something wrong -- I still scored, against Norwich, but I was in bits."

Now he's "brand new" in his own words and ready for the challenges ahead.

"I'm delighted that the team is doing well. The main thing is being in the Premiership again next season and we have more or less accomplished that now."

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