THE LONG SHOT
Brentford loanee Chris Long wants to be Everton and England’s No.9
CHRIS Long initially jumped at the chance to join Brentford and team up with Everton hero David Weir, but the striker admits he is rapidly developing a similar adoration for Mark Warburton.
Having been on Everton’s books since he was just five years old, Huyton-born Long’s affection for the Toffees is as strong as they come.
But now, aged 20, Long is eager to establish himself and joined Brentford on an initial one-month loan deal in January, having come off the bench for Everton against FK Krasnodar in the Europa League the previous month.
Long’s signature was much sought after, but upon learning that high-flying Brentford, with former Everton captain Weir as assistant manager, were interested, the youngster’s mind was made up.
It took him five games to find the net, but while all those appearances came from the substitutes’ bench it did not stop the England U20s star from extending his stay in west London to at least March 21.
Long celebrated his new deal by firing Brentford back into the play-off places on Tuesday night, bagging two goals on his first start as Huddersfield were put to the sword 4-1.
The double brought praise from Bees boss Warburton. And while Long is only just realising his new manager’s talent, their relationship is fast becoming one of mutual respect.
“My agent rang me and said that a few Championship clubs were after my signature, but when I knew Brentford were keen I jumped at the chance,” said Long, who scored once in four games while on loan with MK Dons last season.
“Brentford have been flying this season and that is why I joined. I already knew a few of the boys, too, like Alex Pritchard with England and Jake Bidwell, who was with me at Everton, and then when I saw that David Weir was the assistant manager my mind was made up.
“I first met David when I was with the under-6s at Everton and he probably didn’t even know who I was then, but it is great to have a familiar face to help you settle into a new club because he was Everton reserves manager when I was just breaking through there.
“But Mark Warburton has been great with me since I have been here and I was made up with the praise I got after the Huddersfield game, about how he has watched my development for a long time.
“He is a great manager and leaves no stone unturned. He is really dedicated to it all and just knows how to get three points.
“I wasn’t that frustrated about starting from the bench because when I arrived the team were flying and he was keen to keep the same team, and I knew I was here to help Andre Gray out.
“But to score two on my first start for the club was great and hopefully I can continue to find the net and repay Mark for believing in me.”
Long’s burgeoning relationship with Warburton is destined to be a short-term affair, however, with Brentford looking elsewhere for a manager for next season despite their current high-flying campaign.
“All we want to do is help the gaffer leave in the best possible way and we are still aiming to get promoted,” he added.“The players haven’t let the news about Mark affect us and we are all just concentrating on getting promoted. If I could do that, it would be the best thing I have done in my career so far and a great thing to have on my CV.
“I am still in contact with Everton quite a bit and, after my goals against Huddersfield, Roberto Martinez (manager) and Duncan Ferguson (coach) both texted me which was great.
“The dream is to be the Everton and England No.9 but for now I am focusing on getting Brentford promoted. I would love to stay here until the end of the season and do that.”
AT THE DOUBLE: Chris Long celebrates scoring his second for the Bees in their 4-1 romp against Huddersfield. Inset: David Weir, left, and Mark Warburton