English League 2

Parkinson looks at the long term

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Tue, 08 Jan 2013 10:01:00

Deportivo La Coruna have signed experienced midfielder Paulo Assuncao to aid their relegation fight.

The 32-year-old Brazilian, who counts Porto, Atletico Madrid and AEK Athens among his former clubs, was a free agent after leaving Sao Paulo.

Assuncao has passed his medical with Depor and signed for the remainder of this season plus two more. There is also the option of a further season after that.

Assuncao said on his new club's website: "I'm very pleased, happy and grateful to come to a club as great as Depor and to be given the opportunity to return to Spanish football."

Depor last week installed Domingos Paciencia as their new coach following the sacking of Jose Luis Oltra. In his first match in charge, Domingos guided Depor to a 1-0 win over fourth-placed Malaga on Saturday, lifting the Galician club off the bottom of the Primera Division table.

The Anfield and England captain has had a mixed campaign after a combination of injuries and tactical reshuffles under Brendan Rodgers have forced him into different roles and seen him score just five goals.

But, going into the second half of 2012/13, Gerrard is feeling good about himself and Liverpool's prospects for the future ahead of facing Manchester United at the weekend.

He told the official Liverpool FC magazine: "I've had mixed experiences this season. I've passed some unbelievable landmarks for club and country, getting to the 600-games mark and winning my 100th cap for England.

"But, with the slow start we made and being where we have in the league, it's been a bit mixed for me.

"There's my form as well. I've played well in some games but I've been disappointed with myself in others and I'm not happy with my goal tally at the moment.

"People's opinions, perceptions and the way they judge you changes when you get a goal.

"I think my performances are getting closer to where I want them to be so if I can add goals to those performances, then maybe people will start saying the old Steven Gerrard is back.

"I don't think the manager has asked me to do anything different in terms of the way he wants to me to perform.

"But because of certain injuries, situations that have happened to the team and formations that we've played, I've naturally played a little bit deeper.

"I've maybe gone into protection mode rather than playing the old Steven Gerrard way with the shackles off and going for the jugular."

Gerrard added: "But I've got the buzz that the team's improving and it's going to get better.

"I'm confident that come the end of the season I will be satisfied with myself and the team, because I do believe we can finish the season really strong."

Long moved from the Royals to Albion 18 months ago after scoring 54 goals in 203 appearances in all competitions.

The Republic of Ireland international is battling with Romelu Lukaku to start but will show respect if he finds the net against Brian McDermott's side.

Long said: "I have nothing but respect for Reading, the supporters and everybody involved there.

"It will be strange to go back and play against them and be in the away dressing room.

"It would also be strange to score against Reading and, if I scored a hat-trick, I wouldn't celebrate any of the goals."

And Parkinson is set for new contract talks at Valley Parade later in the week.

The Bradford manager's current deal expires at the end of the season and there could be no better way of opening negotiations with Bradford's joint chairmen Julian Rhodes and Mark Lawn than on the back of another giant-killing upset.

The Bantams captured the hearts of the nation when holding their nerve to send Arsenal crashing out in an unforgettable penalty shootout in the quarter-finals and Parkinson, whose League Two side had already seen off Wigan, is ready to make the city proud again.

"I'd really like to stay at Bradford," said the 45-year-old former Colchester, Hull and Charlton manager.

"I had a brief chat with the chairman last week and we're going to have a sit down hopefully this week and try and get my, and the staffs', contract situation resolved.

"I think that's important because we want to bring players in and we've got a lot of players out of contract, so we're going to try and get that resolved sooner rather than later.

"I'm enjoying it here, it's a great club and we're starting to build something. Me and the staff feel that if we could get this club going it could really take off and we're just at the start of that."

Parkinson, installed as Peter Jackson's permanent successor in the summer of 2011 with the remit of steering the club out of League Two, rebuilt the whole squad during the close season and, but for a 2-0 defeat at Barnet on Saturday would be sitting in a play-off position.

Bradford are still only three points off an automatic promotion spot and Parkinson added: "Last year when we came in it was a real struggle to keep the club in the division and that was pressure. Talk about pressure (tonight), it's certainly a night to enjoy when you look at what we went through last season."

The Bantams flirted with relegation and finished 18th, six points clear of the drop zone, before Parkinson embarked on a complete overhaul.

"I was really pleased to get to the summer and change things round," he said. "Everybody's really positive in the city behind the club again and that's what we need.

"If you look at the crowds we get in our division, 10 and 11,000, that's quite extraordinary and the fans we take on our travels.

"We went to Wigan and took over 5,000. We've had a full house against Arsenal, so the potential is there to say this club is a very good Championship club.

"You've seen it in the past, and Bradford have done it themselves and got in the Premier League. It could certainly hold its own in the Championship, no problem."

It has been a long 13 years since Bradford escaped relegation on the final day of the 1999/2000 season to survive a second campaign in the Premier League after a famous 1-0 home win over Liverpool.

The Bantams were relegated the following season and then followed a calamitous slide into administration (twice) and English football's basement division. From top to bottom in seven forgettable seasons.

But not only were Arsenal conquered in the previous round, top-flight Wigan also succumbed to Parkinson's penalty shoot-out kings, while Gianfranco Zola's Watford were undone by two late goals at Vicarage Road in round two and Parkinson is ready to give the whole city something to cheer again.

"That's really important for us,"

he said. "It's a big club, a sleeping giant and we're trying to reawaken it.

"The win against Arsenal certainly reminded everybody that Bradford City is up and running and starting to get going. Another really good performance would be great for the city again."

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