Premier League

Adkins dares Reading to dream

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Tue, 26 Mar 2013 15:51:00

Shinja Kagawa scored for Japan but they failed to cement their place at the World Cup finals on Tuesday after losing to Jordan, while Australia also slipped up against Oman.

Japan could have booked their place in Brazil in 2014 had they got a positive result in Jordan, but a 2-1 loss leaves the door slightly ajar for the rest in Asia qualifying Group B.

A win would have been good enough to see them safe but they went 2-0 down thanks to goals from Khalil Bani Attiah and Ahmed Hayel.

Japan pulled a goal back through Manchester United's Kagawa but it was not enough, leaving them on 13 points, six ahead of second-placed Jordan.

Meanwhile, in the same group Australia drew 2-2 with Oman.

With Japan looking on course to take top spot in Group B, the Socceroos are keen to shore up second place behind them and with it book their trip to Brazil.

That looked a tough ask when they fell 2-0 down but, thanks to a late fightback they at least got a point, although that was far from ideal.

As a result they have six points and can still be easily bypassed by any of the sides below them.

Had they not got a point, though, that situation would be all the more serious.

Today they were thankful to Tim Cahill for a trademark header and to Brett Holman for an 85th-minute equaliser.

Abdul Aziz Mubarak had put Oman ahead early on and Mile Jedinak's second-half own goal put Australia in big trouble, but they somehow found a way out of it.

In Group A, South Korea maintained their position amongst the pacesetters as they got the better of Qatar 2-1.

It was a dramatic finish at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, with Song Heung-min scoring a 96th-minute winner, having come off the bench with less than 10 minutes remaining.

Prior to that, Lee Keunho's opener had been cancelled out by Khalfan Al Khalfan.

South Korea were quickly replaced in top spot in their group, though, as Uzbekistan beat Lebanon 1-0.

Server Djeparov scored the only goal of the game with 64 minutes gone and they now head the table by a point, albeit having played a game more.

Jones was named on a three-man short-list alongside Exeter striker Jamie Cureton and Port Vale forward Tom Pope, who won the individual League Two prize at the weekend gala at The Brewery in London.

"If you keep yourself fit and you've got desire, and if you are lucky with injuries, you can play a lot longer these days," said Parkinson, who won the Outstanding Managerial Achievement award for guiding his side to the Capital One Cup final at Wembley.

"Look at Ryan Giggs and Gary is an example of that. He's an outstanding captain.

"We've only had him a year, but he's an inspiration on and off the pitch. To be in the top three is a great accolade for him."

Jones, who started out at Swansea in 1997 before spending most of his 16-year career at Rochdale, joined Bradford on a free transfer last summer and has already made 44 appearances for the Bantams this season.

Catalan daily Sport reported on Monday that a deal had already been signed between Neymar and Barcelona in 2011.

However, as is now the norm for Neymar, who is continually linked with moves away from Santos, he says there is no such agreement.

"I've said a thousand times that there is nothing certain with Barcelona. I'm a Santos player, this is all I have to say," he told Globo Esporte.

Santos vice president Ordilio Rodrigues also added that they do not know anything regarding an arrangement between the player and Barcelona.

"Santos denies absolutely the existence of that contract. We haven't known anything about that in any moment. Neymar hasn't signed a contract with Barcelona or any other team," he insisted.

"We have an excellent relationship with Neymar's father and he never told us anything about that supposed contract or even any other.

"People need to know that it doesn't only depend on a team to be interested in Neymar, it depends on that if he wants to be transferred. It has three parts, the team that wants to buy, the team that accepts to sell and the player."

New Southend boss Phil Brown expects the matter regarding who will manage the club for next Sunday's Johnstone's Paint Trophy final at Wembley "will be resolved in the next few days".

Confusion reigns at Roots Hall after chairman Ron Martin's announcement on Sunday that Paul Sturrock had been sacked but, bizarrely, would return to take charge for the Wembley showdown against Crewe on April 7.

The Scot has also since confirmed that he will not only be leading the team out but will also be taking training all week and picking the team.

That provides an unprecedented situation after former Hull boss Brown was confirmed as United's new manager on Monday, with an Easter double-header in League Two coming up.

Yet exactly who will be in charge next weekend still remains unclear after Brown was unveiled to the press on Tuesday morning.

Asked about the arrangement, Brown told reporters: "Strange things do happen in football and it was a subject which was broached to me in mid-conversation with regards to my tenure here, I was asked if I minded or had an opinion about Paul leading the team out at Wembley.

"Where Paul is concerned, I had a conversation with him yesterday. He is a manager with extensive experience and to actually have a conversation with the manager coming in just shows the stature of the man himself.

"Hopefully the situation with regards to Wembley will be resolved in the next few days. As far as I'm concerned, I'm not even looking at Wembley, my focus and my whole attention is on a strong weekend - we're looking at Bradford first and foremost and then Fleetwood.

"After the Easter weekend, I think we will know what the end of the season holds for us. Then we can focus our attention if necessary on Wembley."

Brown said he will "absolutely" be going to Wembley for the final, yet asked whether he feels he will not be involved, he replied: "That's not the case. There's a lot of conversations to be had with regards to the chairman and Paul. I'm on the end of the result of those conversations.

"It will be resolved, we're grown men. I'm sure we'll come to the right decision."

Just 67 days after his surprise sacking by Southampton, the 48-year-old has returned to the Barclays Premier League as successor to Brian McDermott - the man that beat him to the npower Championship crown last season.

Adkins has penned a three-year deal at the Madejski Stadium and now has the unenviable task of turning around what looks to be a sinking ship.

Reading are seven points adrift of safety with just eight matches remaining, but the new manager exuded confidence at his unveiling today.

"You have got to have belief," Adkins said. "You have got to dare to dream.

"Can we dare to dream that we're going to win the amount of games that we've got to go and accumulate the points? We've got to.

"What we've got is spirit - that is the big thing that you've always seen here at Reading.

"There is a spirit and camaraderie amongst the players and that is invaluable, especially at the latter stages of a season.

"It will take you a hell of a long way as it was demonstrated last season with the run Reading went on.

"We've got to believe and I know, having spoken with Brian and other people here at Reading, there was a belief that there were games here at the end of the season to go and win. I think that gives us a great start."

The news of McDermott's sacking broke when Adkins was in Germany, where he was spending a week with Bundesliga club Hamburg.

The former Saints boss was initially understood not to have not been interested in the Royals post, with reports suggesting he even turned the job down at one point.

Brighton manager Gus Poyet also rejected the opportunity to replace McDermott and Adkins was keen not to discuss the process that saw him appointed.

"I am the Reading manager so we can talk about discussions that might have gone on previously but we look to the future," said the new Royals boss, who also rejected talk he spoke to Leeds at the weekend.

"I have just been appointed the Reading manager. I am very happy about that and we look forward with positivity and I think that's important."

Adkins, who is joined by assistant Andy Crosby, headed straight to the club's Hogwood Park training base after the press conference as he prepares for a hectic start to life at the helm.

His first home game is a mouth-watering clash with former club Southampton, although this weekend's trip to Arsenal comes first.

"It is quite an interesting challenge because first and foremost we've got to amongst the players," Adkins said.

"Some aren't going to get back until Thursday afternoon and we have a game on Saturday so, hey, it is a great challenge to put all that together.

"It is one I am really looking forward to. I have been out of work for a couple of months and you kick your heels."

Adkins was one of six on the top table at this morning's unveiling, taking centre stage alongside Reading owner Anton Zingarevich.

The Russian has come under criticism for sacking McDermott and failing to adequately strengthen the Royals squad.

However, Zingarevich laid the blame at McDermott's door, highlighting a failure to recruit in the January transfer window.

"What has been tough in the summer is that we didn't have any scouting at all," he said.

"The idea was to bring players in the summer and then do more in January.

"We tried to sign very big players in January but we weren't really successful. I thought we should have done more."

Zingarevich, looking uncomfortable at times, defended the timing of McDermott's sacking and believes Adkins can take the club "to the next level".

He also rejected the notion that the Royals are all but relegated.

"I think we definitely have a good chance [to stay up]," Zingarevich added.

"We are in the Premier League, we have eight games to go, winnable games, so we will do our best and then sit down at the end of the season and decided what we do next."

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