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'Lucky beard' does trick for Long

3 September 2012

And striker gives insight into boss' pre-match speech

SHANE Long reckons he has his ‘lucky beard’ to thank for his turnaround in fortunes in front of goal in the last week.

The Baggies striker added to his midweek Capital One Cup double against Yeovil with the opener in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Everton.

The Ireland international also made an electric start to the season by winning two penalties in the 3-0 opening-day win over Liverpool – and believes he only went off the boil in the second game against Tottenham because he shaved!

“It's a bit of luck”, said Long, who was delighted to make amends against David Moyes' high fliers after heading a golden opportunity against the crossbar in the first half.

“I felt like I played really well in the first game, shaved for the second game and didn't feel I played so well – but having a beard is more laziness than anything.

“On the first effort on Saturday I made a good connection.

“It was a great cross and the minute it hit my head I felt certain it was in.

“I should be putting those away, but it was nice to make up for that in the second half.”

He added: “I was definitely pleased with Saturday.

“We knew we would have to be on top of our game going into that one because Everton came into it having got two wins from two games.

“For my goal it was a perfect cross in for me.

“It can be a thankless task playing up front alone but sometimes you just have to keep battling away and keep working.
 
“You have to just keep trying to put their defenders under pressure and hopefully it will fall for you at the right end of the pitch.

“There are bound to be periods when you are a bit isolated.”

The 25-year-old hitman, who is now on international duty with the Republic of Ireland ahead of their opening World Cup qualifiers, also offered an insight into Steve Clarke’s style as a boss.

He said: “He says what needs to be said.

“He's quiet enough at times but if anything needs saying, he says it.

“The style of football he plays is all about passing, passing and more passing.

“It's all about having confidence in ourselves and he's instilled that into us.

“Before the games he says a few words of wisdom and gets us up for it.

“He gives a speech - I don't want to give too much away.

“He keeps it calm - everyone is calm beforehand.

“We start well in the first five or ten minutes of games - and it's no coincidence.”

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