The Long saga has cut deep at Hull

Posted by Philip Buckingham

Shane Long celebrates his goal for West Brom against SunderlandGettyImagesShane Long: The one that got away.

It was in the final hour of the transfer window that Hull City fielded a call they had hoped would never come. Shane Long, the centre-forward sat in the canteen of the club's Cottingham training base, would not be allowed to leave West Bromwich Albion. The proposed £5 million deal to join Steve Bruce's men was dead.

A collapsed move for Long brought an inevitable mood of deflation down upon the Tigers. Despite 10 new signings over the summer supplemented by the late arrival of Egypt international Gedo on deadline day, City's failure to land a proven Premier League goalscorer has disappointed Bruce.

- Smith: Clubs make hay with TV money
- Hull re-sign Gedo, fail with Long

The savvy boss will adopt a brave face and point towards the influx of new blood over the last three months, but the Long saga has cut deep.

To have convinced his board to part with another £5m before persuading the 26-year-old to leave the Republic of Ireland camp and fly to East Yorkshire on deadline day, the search for a stellar attacking name appeared at its end. If only.

This is the latest episode in a hopeless trend. No matter how hard Bruce tries, his top attacking targets continue to elude him.

In January it was DJ Campbell. The QPR forward famously spent the final morning of the winter window at the KC Stadium before disappearing with his agent for lunch. Much to the ire of Bruce, Campbell did not return and instead wound up bound for Blackburn Rovers.

Then, by July, the nearly man was Charlie Austin. Despite agreeing a £4 million fee with Burnley and agreeing personal terms, a knee problem unearthed during a rigorous medical convinced City not to progress where QPR would happily within weeks.

Little wonder then that Bruce was taken nothing for granted with Long on Monday night.

A deal had begun to look a formality when the centre-forward was granted leave from the Republic of Ireland camp but the Baggies' eventual failure to re-sign Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea, who instead headed for Everton, pulled the rug from under Bruce's feet at the 11th hour. Third time was no charm.

Where Campbell's perceived betrayal was met with anger and Austin's cruel set-back a cue for sympathy, both at least offered opportunities for City to act. George Boyd arrived in February to banish memories of Campbell, while Danny Graham and Yannick Sagbo soothed the Austin wounds.

Those same luxuries must now wait until January and only then will the cost of missing out on Long become clear. Right now, having had such an accomplished player in the palm of the hand, it feels like a heavy blow to nurse through the international break.

The potential short-term remedy is Gedo, who on Monday returned for a second loan spell at the KC Stadium from Egyptian giants Al-Ahly.

The 28-year-old rose far above expectations when first arriving in January and his five goals in 12 appearances were vital in guiding City to second spot in the Championship.

A foot injury diluted his impact and resulted in surgery over the summer, but Bruce will be hopeful Gedo can transfer his natural instinct for goals onto the Premier League stage. Seventeen goals in 33 games for Egypt, including the winner in the African Nations Cup final win over Ghana in 2010, is not the record of a novice.

If Long was almost a lottery windfall, Gedo is a tidy consolation prize at the end of a fruitful summer. Bruce must console himself with that.

In signing 11 players since promotion out of the Championship, only Crystal Palace and Sunderland have been busier this summer.

Allan McGregor, Maynor Figueroa, Curtis Davies and Ahmed Elmohamady provide a reassurance to Bruce's defensive ranks, while Danny Graham, Yannick Sagbo and Gedo have arrived to pep up an all too often toothless attack.

The Tigers' midfield has also been transformed and the joint deal to sign Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore three weeks ago stands proudly as Bruce's best business in the window.

Huddlestone, a £5.25 million club record signing, and Livermore, here on loan for the season, have been outstanding in their first two starts for the club. The midfield pair belong in the Premier League and set the standards for others around them to follow. Keep them both fit, Huddlestone in particular, and City have a fighting chance of avoiding the drop.

Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Manchester City ensured the opening month ended with three points on the board and only Sunderland and West Brom beneath them, but the manner of the loss has kept optimism intact. The Tigers have a long autumn and winter ahead but few opponents will be regarding them as whipping boys. A rude awakening awaits those who do.


Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.