Southampton boss Ronald Koeman gives Shane Long licence to miss

Aston Villa 2 Southampton 4
Shane Long scored one goal and unselfishly set up two others, taking on opposition players 20 times, more than any other player — yet the Tipperary man still felt the need to apologise after the Saints win at Villa Park.

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman was full of praise for the Ireland striker who often ran former England centre-back Joleon Lescott ragged. 

“Shane’s performance was very positive. He has just apologised to me for missing some goals but that’s a great mentality to have,” said the Saints boss.

“He knows himself he had more opportunities to score and I like it. I never complain to a player who is working hard and doing everything.

“It’s part of the job to miss chances. He was positive because he is working hard and creating a lot of problems.”

“I thought it was a good performance,” Long said. 

“We could have scored a lot more and me personally I had a few chances which hit the post and the crossbar which is a shame, but we’re happy with the performance.”

After Long’s opener, Dusan Tadic hit a double and Sadio Mane an injury-time fourth to keep Southampton’s slim Europa League chances alive and Koeman wants to keep the pressure on their rivals.

“What you like, at the end of the season, is to play for something, that is always better than when the season is over. We are winning again and putting the pressure on them.

“That’s what we like to do and we have to do it next week.”

Koeman also made light of any speculation about his future at St Mary’s saying: “I am very happy and still have one year on my contract. Everyone can be very happy how it works.”

Ashley Westwood’s double was little consolation for Villa, who were constantly jeered by their own fans after gifting the Saints their first two goals.

Defeat was Villa’s 10th straight league loss and they are a game away from equalling a club record run when they lost 11 matches in 1962-63.

Leandro Bacuna, Joleon Lescott, Brad Guzan and Micah Richards were prime targets for the boo boys but Villa caretaker manager Eric Black refused to criticise the fans.

“It’s difficult circumstances, they are trying to voice their opinions. 

“We are professional people, professional footballers, and it’s not always rosy in the garden.”

ASTON VILLA: Guzan, Hutton, Richards (Toner 46), Lescott, Cissokho, Westwood, Gana, Sanchez (Grealish 68), Bacuna, Ayew (Gestede 59), Sinclair

Subs not used: Veretout, Gil, Bunn, Lyden

SOUTHAMPTON: Forster, Cedric, Fonte, van Dijk, Bertrand, Romeu, Wanyama (Clasie 46), Steven Davis, Rodriguez (Mane 70), Tadic, Long.

Subs not used: Yoshida, Martina, Ward-Prowse, Pelle, Stekelenburg.

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire).

Here’s a little extra sport. Watch the latest BallTalk for the best sports chat and analysis: Premier League Flops of the Season


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