Emma Raducanu can deal with the high expectations around her but needs to find a coach and stick with them, according to former British number one John Lloyd.

Raducanu is set to defend her US Open title at Flushing Meadows as the final grand slam of the year gets underway on Monday.

The teenager's sensational success at the 2021 tournament as a qualifier came from nowhere, but she has been unable to replicate it since, having not won any further singles titles.

In fact, she has not even been beyond the quarter-finals of any slam or WTA Tour event since her extraordinary success.

Lloyd still struggles to comprehend her achievement.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Lloyd said: "When you win a slam the expectations are going to go through the roof, that's just the way it is.

"She achieved something, I'd liken it to Rocky, it was very similar. People have sent me film scripts like the one Wimbledon, the tennis film that came out, and I told the person, they sent me the script six months before, I said, 'This is stupid, stop coming up with these movies where you get some guy or woman comes up from the qualifiers and wins a grand slam, it doesn't happen, it's stupid, it's never going to happen.' And then she goes and does it.

"What she achieved was amazing, but she did it almost like getting an A in a test without doing the homework. She really didn't do the homework to get there.

"She hasn't done the miles yet, and her body hasn't, the toughness hasn't come. She went above it before she was ready in some ways, but she's already got it, that's in her pocket now. She is a slam winner and no-one can take that away from her.

"The expectations are unbelievably high, and they're going be and she has to face that fact, she can’t hide it, she's a slam winner so people are going to expect, but people in the game know that it was going be a tough year [for her]."

The 19-year-old split from her coach Torben Beltz in April after just six months, saying she needed "a new training model" and she has been working with Dmitry Tursunov on a trial basis in the last month.

Beltz became the third coach to move on from working with Raducanu in just 12 months after she swapped Nigel Sears for Andrew Richardson, who had been in her corner at last year's US Open.

Lloyd acknowledges there is not necessarily a right way to do things in tennis, though he is certainly not convinced by Raducanu's approach of choosing a new coach every few months.

"I'm not a big fan of the coaching situation," Lloyd added. "After what Richard Williams did [coaching Venus and Serena Williams] … to say that there's a norm, he threw that out the window.

"What they're doing now in coaching is almost like they're getting hold of coaches, soaking up like a sponge all the information they have and then they go onto the next. I don't think that works in tennis. I could be proved wrong, but I don't think that's right.

"You have to have coaches that you trust completely, because I think a lot of winning matches – I don't want to give too much credit to coaches because it's the person on the court that does the work – but I think a lot of matches are won by the night before the match, and even the morning of the match… you have a trust a coach and what they're saying to you.

"You're a unit, and I don't think chopping and changing having a different coach every three months is the right way to go about. I could be wrong but I think she has to have a settled coach."

Pep Guardiola's influence on Mikel Arteta is clear to see at Arsenal this season, former Gunners midfielder Paul Davis has told Stats Perform.

Arsenal are the only Premier League side to have made a perfect start to the 2022-23 campaign with three wins from their opening three matches.

It is the first time the north London club have achieved that in 18 years and has left fans excited about an unlikely title tilt – or a top-four finish at the very least.

Arteta previously spent three years working under Guardiola on the Manchester City coaching staff, which Davis believes has made the Spaniard a better manager.

"If you're not going to become a better coach when working with someone like Pep, you shouldn't be there," said Davis, who spent 15 years at Arsenal prior to departing in 1995.

"He's obviously learned so much and he's now using a lot of that with Arsenal. You can now see that in games."

While supporters are now firmly behind Arteta, it was a different story 12 months ago after Arsenal lost their first three matches without scoring.

"Arsenal are in a good place now and everybody's happy," Davis added. "But all the fans last year were saying we've got to let him go. They're not saying the same thing now.

"Last season they were going through a bad time. When people were telling me he's got to go, I was saying 'Hold on, he doesn't have to go yet – give him some time'.

"It doesn't surprise me that he's been given time, and now you can see the development of the team and the players."

Arsenal's fast start comes on the back of a busy close season in which they signed Fabio Vieira, Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko, the latter two joining from Man City.

Jesus has been involved in five goals in his first three Premier League appearances, which is the most of any Arsenal player in their first three games in the competition.

And Davis, speaking exclusively on the release of his new book, Arsenal And After, can see comparisons between Jesus and another Arsenal favourite from the past.

"What's surprised me about him is the hunger he's shown – it's like he really wants to be here," added Davis, who works as a senior coach developer at the Football Association.

"Someone mentioned the other day that Jesus reminds them of Ian Wright, which I can see now but couldn't at the time. 

"Ian had that enthusiasm of wanting to score goals, and he scores goals similar to the ones we've seen from Jesus. They have a similar type of game in wanting to get in behind.

"If he can carry on scoring goals like Ian, Arsenal fans will be happy and I'll be happy. He's made a great start and I can't see why it won't continue."

Iga Swiatek is still a standout candidate to win the US Open, even if the WTA field has plenty of strength in depth, so says Laura Robson.

The latest iteration of the season's final grand slam gets under way on August 29, with Emma Raducanu looking to mount a successful defence at Flushing Meadows.

But with six different winners in the last eight WTA majors, the race is wide open to take glory in New York, particularly after three-time major winner Ash Barty called time on her career following this year's Australian Open.

That leaves former British number one Robson feeling any title fight is too tough to call, though she believes the strength of the field makes it all the more thrilling and unpredictable.

"I think it just shows that there's a lot of depth on the WTA side," she told Stats Perform. "You've got 15 players in any given slam [who could win], which for me makes it more exciting.

"I'm pumped when I see the draw come out, because things can open up so quickly. Had Ash Barty not retired earlier this year, then she probably would have been the front runner going into the rest of the season.

"It really could be anyone. Ons Jabeur is playing great tennis, [Elena] Rybakina and then [Paula] Badosa, on hardcourts is playing great as well."

Robson acknowledged it is tough to look past world number one Swiatek, though. The Pole claimed her second French Open crown earlier this year and has won 50 matches in 2022.

"She just looked like she was on fire," Robson added, before suggesting Swiatek's defeat at Wimbledon to Alize Cornet came merely because "she just ran out of gas".

"I think she's going to transition a little slower on to the hard courts then at the US Open. They're not quite the same surface that works best for her game.

"But at the same time, you know, she's got so much confidence at the moment that you can't really bet against her."

Play Your Way to Wimbledon, Powered by Vodafone is the largest individual mass participation tennis competition in the UK - delivered by Vodafone in partnership with the LTA and The All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Emma Raducanu is making a "natural transition" to the WTA Tour, says former British number one Laura Robson.

Raducanu became a grand slam winner in just her second major appearance when she defeated fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez in last year's US Open final, and the first qualifier to win the women's singles at Flushing Meadows.

Since then, the 19-year-old has cracked the top 10 of the WTA Rankings, but has otherwise endured a mixed run of form, with a last-16 exit in the Western and Southern Open her latest result ahead of a return to New York, while she has also changed coaches in a season that has so far failed to produce a trophy.

But Robson thinks they are mere teething troubles for Raducanu, arguing that her difficulties have been blown out of proportion.

"I wouldn't say she struggled," Robson told Stats Perform. "I think she's making it a natural transition to the main tour.

"Emma came through so quickly, then struggling to catch up to the day-to-day life of being a professional tennis player, which is a lot of time away from home, a lot of training weeks, a lot of travel.

"She hasn't been able to put that time in. I thought she played great last week in Washington, and unfortunately, had a very tough draw against Camila Georgi in the first round last night.

"But I think she's playing some great tennis. So, I feel when she's back on the courts at US Open, they really suit her and hopefully some positive vibes will help as well."

Robson, a former Junior Wimbledon champion in 2008, won the WTA Newcomer of the Year prize in 2012 after claiming a silver medal alongside Andy Murray in the mixed doubles at London 2012, but ultimately struggled with a succession of injuries before her retirement this year.

She is loathe to draw parallels between her own experiences and those of Raducanu but hopes time can be afforded to the youngster.

"I mean, I wouldn't even compare my situation to hers, because Emma came through so quickly that it feels like she's only just catching her breath," she added.

"She just needs time to manage her own expectations. I hope she's not even thinking about anyone else's expectations because they really don't matter in the grand scheme of things.

"I think she just needs a good amount of training work, which I know she has been doing anyway. And the results will come because they think she's an incredible ball striker and a great athlete as well."

Play Your Way to Wimbledon, Powered by Vodafone is the largest individual mass participation tennis competition in the UK – delivered by Vodafone in partnership with the LTA and The All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Former Manchester United striker Louis Saha has suggested "drastic changes" in the club's ownership structure may be the path forward from their current problems.

The Premier League heavyweights have lost their first two games of the Erik ten Hag era in limp fashion, slipping to an opening defeat against Brighton and Hove Albion before being thrashed 4-0 at Brentford.

That has increased the common refrain for club owners Joel and Avram Glazer to step aside and sell the club, with the pair having drawn the frequent ire of supporters since their arrival at Old Trafford.

Now, Saha - a double title winner during his time with United - has addressed the calls for a switch in ownership, suggesting dramatic action is needed at the bottom as much as the top.

"Any drastic changes, something that can help people and fans, [give] the media other stuff to talk about - no, the problem is still there," Saha told StatsPerform.

"Tomorrow, you give them a billion dollars to get the players [but] if the scouting is wrong, you still have the same problem on the pitch and people will still protest.

"So you have to make the right choices, you have to really be in a position where everything is in harmony. If your commercial part is working but [not] on the field, you will see a protest.

"If the club is not earning money, like Barcelona, people say it is badly managed and all that. Everything needs to work [together at] the same time.

"Sometimes, for that, you need drastic changes. I'd be interest to see what happens."

A fan protest is expected when United host Liverpool on Monday, with Jurgen Klopp's Reds also looking for a first win of the campaign.

Manchester United risk being "destroyed" by Liverpool if they fail to improve on their poor early-season performances, according to former Red Devils striker Louis Saha.

The Red Devils are bottom of the embryonic Premier League table – the first time that has happened since 1992-93 – after losing their opening two matches.

After being outplayed in a 2-1 home loss to Brighton and Hove Albion, United were thumped 4-0 at Brentford last weekend on a chastening day for new boss Erik ten Hag.

It is the first time in 30 years that United have started a season with back-to-back league losses and life does not get any easier for Ten Hag, with Liverpool up next on Monday.

Liverpool have themselves had a slower-than-expected start to the 2022-23 campaign, having played out draws with Fulham and Crystal Palace so far.

That makes Monday's contest the first time in Premier League history that these two sides have entered this fixture each seeking their first win of the season.

While a meeting with last season's runners-up is hardly an ideal fixture for an out-of-form United, Saha believes it could provide a good opportunity to kickstart their season.

"I think it’s going to be a surprising game," he told Stats Perform. "Liverpool are not playing at the same level as before. There are some questions about how they have started.

"I think it's a good and positive game for Manchester United to react. The opening 30 minutes are going to be very important.

"If United don't provide a good contest all the way through, they can be destroyed as any team can against Liverpool.

"But if they find the right spirit, like we saw during pre-season, then it could be an amazing game to watch."

Louis Saha is frustrated by the behaviour of Kylian Mbappe, who the former Manchester United striker says is sending "the wrong message".

Mbappe has been criticised over the past week after his actions in Paris Saint-Germain's 5-2 win over Montpellier.

The striker, who signed a lucrative deal to stay at PSG for a further three years back in May, snubbing Real Madrid's interest, was in a stroppy mood on what was his first start of the season.

He missed a penalty in the 23rd minute, but created the first goal soon after when his low cross was turned into his own net by Falaye Sacko.

A spat between Mbappe and Neymar then became apparent when the latter stepped up to take PSG's second penalty of the game.

Mbappe was sure he should have remained on spot-kick duties, and in his frustration to raise the issue with Neymar he even barged past Lionel Messi.

Neymar subsequently converted from 12 yards before helping himself to a second. Mbappe got on the scoresheet in the 69th minute, yet did not celebrate.

He also reacted furiously to Vitinha's decision to pass to Messi rather than him late in the first half, throwing his arms up in disgust and seemingly refusing to continue with the attack. 

PSG coach Christophe Galtier explained Mbappe's behaviour as being down to a lack of match fitness, and on Friday confirmed any row between the France forward and Neymar was over, though Saha was not at all impressed.

"I would think it's unacceptable for a player of this nature," Saha said in an exclusive interview with Stats Perform.

"Yes we all make mistakes, especially since he's a young player.

"But [being a young player] doesn't give you the position to do this, because all the people will be on his back. We will say, 'Wait a minute, we have seen a lot of things going on'.

"We've seen fights with Neymar. Doing that [throwing his arms up in the air after Vitinha's pass to Messi] after whatever choices from a player giving the ball, that's the wrong message. That's not helping.

"He still needs to show from the outside that he's remaining eager.

"You have ambition and all that, fine, there's no problem. You want to win, but you don't bring the right message to the other players - some very expensive players should be respected, some young players should be respected."

Saha does believe the 23-year-old's winning mentality is what makes him such an influential figure, however.

"He helps represent the youth, the really young guys who can work under pressure," Saha continued.

"He's got great communication skills, I like he's committed to football, but slowly beat by beat he can commit to messages about society. You have to be careful because you represent so much.

"It's all really impactful. He has more to give still to football and he has to remain humble, that he's still able to learn from people because getting too quickly into that position where you think you know better could be dangerous for his development.

"I'm really scared about that because he has more impact than he thinks on just football.

"In society he could be a gamechanger so I'd love for him to be slowly taught in some way to be an icon and an ambassador because he's very smart, he speaks three or four languages, and has winning spirit, I love it."

Casemiro's imminent arrival at Old Trafford will greatly enhance Manchester United's midfield options but will not resolve all of the club's problems.

That is according to former United striker Louis Saha, who also told Stats Perform that Cristiano Ronaldo was wrong to ask for a move.

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti confirmed on Friday that Casemiro is set to leave the Santiago Bernabeu, with United reported to have agreed a £51million (€60m) fee.

Casemiro, a five-time Champions League winner with Madrid, is one of a number of midfielders to have been linked with the Red Devils.

Having appeared to have missed out on Frenkie de Jong and Adrien Rabiot, Casemiro's move to Old Trafford could be completed as early as this weekend.

While the Brazil international will bring a number of qualities to United, Saha believes his former side's issues run far deeper than simply bringing in a new midfielder.

United find themselves bottom of the Premier League for the first time since August 1992, which is the only previous occasion they lost their opening two games in the competition.

"It's a massive signing," Saha said. "But it is not a midfielder, it is not a striker, it is not a defender, goalkeeper or other transfers that are going to solve United’s problems. 

"So don't be stupid in thinking, 'Oh, okay, we signed the big player who won the Champions League a few times, all our problems will be solved'. 

"He'll really help the strikers to feel more confident that they have a certain kind of base that helps a team that wants to win titles. But he won't solve every player’s problems."

Casemiro is set to become United's fourth signing of the window following the arrivals of Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez.

A number of first-team players have exited Old Trafford since the end of last season, meanwhile, with Paul Pogba the highest-profile departure to date.

The future of Ronaldo remains in the balance ahead of the September 1 deadline, although a number of teams have opted out of making an approach for the forward.

Ronaldo is reported to have asked for a transfer just a year after rejoining United, which Saha believes has left the Red Devils in a difficult situation.

"I respect so much Cristiano and I think he's in this bracket as such a special player that I completely understand the way to manage this is not easy," he said.

"Cristiano's a massive player and got 24 goals last year. That has a massive impact on the opposition because they fear him.

"It's a difficult position. But on the same terms, we can recognise that he has put the club in a very difficult situation, because he hasn't maybe spoken out at the right moment.

"I think the timing and the essence of this could have been kept a bit more private, until the deal is done or nearly done because of the respect that you have about the situation. 

"The manager is trying to build a team, and you're saying you're unsettled and you want to leave. It's really hard. I don't think that he was right."

Ronaldo scored 18 Premier League goals last season – only Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min (both 23) scored more – and netted a team-high 24 in all competitions.

Bruno Fernandes was the only other United player to reach double figures, finding the back of the net 10 times.

Saha, who won four trophies in five seasons with United, feels it is down to others to step up rather than Ronaldo if the five-time Ballon d'Or winner stays.

"He got 24 goals last season and shut all the criticism in terms of his personal ability, and that was in a team not playing well," Saha said.

"He is the only goalscorer who's got more than 10 goals, which is a joke. I mean, that's not normal. 

"No other players could support when he wasn't scoring. We've seen bits from Bruno Fernandes, who is a bit of a shadow of the player he was before the arrival of Cristiano. 

"The club and the other players haven't performed to facilitate a good rehabilitation for Cristiano Ronaldo's comeback."

The Los Angeles Lakers' decision to give LeBron James a two-year contract extension worth $97.1million is as much about the player's brand as his ability, says sport finance expert Dan Plumley.

James had been entering the final year of a contract worth $44.5m. His new deal includes a player option for the 2024-25 season.

The extension takes the 37-year-old to $532m in guaranteed career earnings, which would mean he is the highest-paid player in the history of the league.

Despite his increasing years, James is still one of the top performers in the NBA, averaging 30.3 points per game in the 2021-22 season.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Plumley admitted he is surprised by the short-term nature of the deal not usually seen in US sports, but understands the brand of the athlete is often as important as the ability.

"I think that's now more the case than ever in every professional sport," said Plumley, who is principal lecturer in sport finance at Sheffield Hallam University. "Every team's looking at how they can use their superstars across respective sports.

"Of course, it's about first and foremost what they can do on the court, on the pitch, it's absolutely still about that.

"But the other side of it is what do they bring from a commercial side of things and what's the brand association, and what's the fit like, and how can the club or team leverage some of that against the superstars that they've got?

"It's absolutely the case with LeBron James. Of course it is. But I think it's the case across the board now for a lot of professional teams."

With James approaching 40 by the end of the two-year deal and with a history of injuries, there appears to be significant risk in the investment for the Lakers, but Plumley thinks it will be worth taking if it produces a championship or two.

"I think that there's the risk... but there was also the risk of losing him and losing the asset and losing the brand association and the value that somebody like LeBron James brings with the Lakers and everything else he's got going on in his personal life as well," he said.

"We know he's connected to Liverpool [Football Club, minority ownership] and the wider network that he operates in. So there's that at play where you're balancing the risk.

"From the playing side of things, yes, the injury risk is there but I think the Lakers felt that it was enough to get the next two years where they could potentially win something again with LeBron, and that risk was far lower than losing him. I think that's where they've ended up at.

"With the NBA, we know that careers can go a little bit later versus other sports. I think when you balance that off, the Lakers have obviously arrived at the decision that it's better to keep him now for a couple of years than potentially lose him."

In terms of the wider future of the NBA, Plumley understands there is danger in seeing deals increase in size, but believes basketball and other US sports will be safe from significant damage due to their closed nature and draft system.

"I think there's always the danger that you see figures like this, and we know that the salary cap is there, and there will always be a limit on this," Plumley added.

"But we've seen increases in the salary cap over time, which is not unusual when you think about the amount of money coming in. So if there's more money coming in, then there's an argument to raise the salary cap.

 

"I think what teams will always be suggesting and the way that side of things has gone is that there's an expectation that they need to keep raising the salary cap. And that's always okay if you've got the money coming in to support it, so I think that will be the trade-off.

"It's always a risk in any professional team sport. They are reliant on broadcasters and they're reliant on commercial partners to generate that revenue at the league level. And while that's okay and growing, these little increases in salary caps have been okay.

"The question always is 'where's the benchmark?' And if the benchmark has gone higher, because this is the biggest contract we've ever seen, then others will start to look towards that as the new benchmark. And I think that's just the risk in the background that you run.

"American sports are a little bit more protected in that sense, because of the nature of their league systems."

Cristiano Ronaldo is still a top player, but Bayern Munich should not bring him to the Allianz Arena.

That is according to former Bayern player Thorsten Fink, who wants the Bundesliga champions to be a "great team" rather than a "team of greats".

Ronaldo has been linked with a move away from Manchester United after reportedly telling the Red Devils he wants to leave in search of Champions League football.

However, Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn appeared to dampen suggestions the club would look to bring in the 37-year-old, who scored 24 goals in 38 games in all competitions for United last season, saying recently a move for the Portugal star "does not necessarily fit with our ideas".

Fink concurred with Kahn's assertion, telling Stats Perform: "Cristiano was and still is a top player, [but] you have to look at how he fits your system and how he blends into the structure of the team.

"Does a player with his magnitude fit this club and this team? Would others suffer from that? This is what you have to think about. I am sure they talked about this at FC Bayern.

"It is about the system you play, the charisma and magnitude that Cristiano Ronaldo has.

"You either are a 'team of greats' or you are a 'great team', and I think for FC Bayern it is important to be a great team and not have great individual players who, in the end, don't have that character to win things."

Fink played for Bayern between 1997 and 2003, winning four Bundesliga titles, three DFB-Pokals and the Champions League in 2000-01, and he has been impressed by the business his former club has done in the transfer window.

Although Bayern sold Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona, they added Sadio Mane from Liverpool, as well as duo Ryan Gravenberch and Noussair Mazraoui from Ajax, while another former Ajax man Matthijs de Ligt is close to finalising a big money move from Juventus.

"I'm always surprised at what FC Bayern manages to achieve again and again," Fink said. 

"One year you think 'now everyone's saying Bayern will not win a title' or something. I've heard it from people again. But when you see who they've brought in, I have to say 'chapeau' to them for bringing players of such class over from England. 

"That actually shows how interesting our league is. And you have to say hats off to FC Bayern. Only Bayern can bring players like that to our country who enhance our league. And that's why I'm really happy that Mane has come and that De Ligt has also come.

"I can't wait to see what FC Bayern can achieve."

Cristiano Ronaldo is a "goal machine" who will remain competitive until the day he retires, former Italy and Juventus defender Gianluca Zambrotta has told Stats Perform.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo has reportedly asked to leave Manchester United if an offer is made after just one season back at Old Trafford.

The Portugal international has yet to return to training with United and is not part of their tour of Thailand and Australia, which has been put down to family reasons.

Ronaldo scored a team-leading 24 goals in all competitions last season, but his homecoming did not go to plan as United registered their lowest Premier League points tally.

United endured a fifth successive season without silverware and finished down in sixth, meaning no Champions League football in the 2022-23 campaign.

That is said to be the reason why Ronaldo is seeking a new challenge, and Zambrotta has backed the 37-year-old to continue firing wherever he plies his trade.

"Ronaldo is a player who makes a difference at the moment. We have seen it. The numbers say this," Zambrotta said. 

"Which team can be right for him? I don't know. Definitely a team fighting for the Champions League, a team fighting for many goals.

"Because I am sure that he always wants to be competitive, until he retires. And I still think Ronaldo is a goal machine any team he plays for."

Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer with 140 goals and has won the competition four times with Real Madrid and once with United in his previous spell.

He scored six goals in last season's competition but could not help United further than the last-16 stage, where they were eliminated over two legs by Atletico Madrid.

However, while United endured a dreadful campaign under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and then Ralf Rangnick, Zambrotta does not feel Ronaldo was to blame.

"Let's say that he also needs team-mates," said Zambrotta, who represented the likes of Juve, Barcelona and Milan, while helping Italy to World Cup glory in 2006. 

"Even when Ronaldo was criticised at Juve, and they weren't able to move forward in the Champions League, he has always made the difference from a numerical point of view. 

"The data, the numbers say this. You can't think of going against the numbers. And then you may like him, or you may not like him – this is another kind of speech.

"But he has always been a player who has always made the difference from that point of view."

Ronaldo is not the only big-name attacker potentially on the move this window, with Robert Lewandowski also eager to move on from Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski scored 50 goals in 46 games in all competitions last season in his second-best scoring campaign across eight years with Bayern, behind the 55 netted in 2019-20.

The prolific striker has less than 12 months to run on his contract and has made no secret of his desire to leave, with Barcelona this week confirming an offer has been tabled.

It could lead to a bitter split between Bayern and Lewandowski but, like with Ronaldo, Zambrotta can understand why the player wants out.

"I have always been used to not judging anyone because I don't know the personal stories and current events of each case," he said. 

"Everyone can find themselves in a certain moment of their life or career in which they need to change because they need new motivations, new stimuli. 

"He needs a change of scenery, to see new faces, to stay in another stadium, to meet new mates. 

"Maybe at that moment, it was perhaps the right one for a player, so it doesn't affect me and most likely [Lewandowski] wants to change the air. That's all."

Juventus must challenge for both the Champions League and Serie A crowns this coming season after recruiting Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria.

That is according to Juve and Italy great Gianluca Zambrotta, who also told Stats Perform he expects Inter to be a stronger force with Romelu Lukaku back at the club.

Juve confirmed the signing of former Paris Saint-Germain forward Di Maria on Friday, with fellow free agent Pogba also set to join following his departure from Manchester United.

Pogba knows the Turin giants well having already spent four seasons at the Allianz Stadium, winning the Scudetto in each of those and making 178 appearances in total.

Fellow former United player Di Maria is playing in Italy for the first time, meanwhile, with this the Argentina international's sixth different club in as many countries.

And having brought in players boasting plenty of pedigree, Zambrotta says challenging for Serie A alone – after back-to-back fourth-place finishes – will not be enough for Juve.

"Juventus will certainly have to play a different championship because they must return to be competitive not only in Italy but also in Europe," he said. 

"And they have to do that right away and not just a little bit because they cannot think to wait any more."

Pogba and Di Maria join a squad already boasting the likes of January recruit Dusan Vlahovic and winger Federico Chiesa, who is closing in on a return from a long-term lay-off.

That will be a welcome headache for Massimiliano Allegri, while fierce rivals Inter must also find a way to slot Lukaku back into the side following his return on loan from Chelsea.

"Juve could play with Di Maria on one side, Chiesa on the other side and Vlahovic in the middle," said 2006 World Cup winner Zambrotta, who spent seven years with Juve.

"It is clear that it becomes an important attack, very, very technical and very dynamic on the wings. 

"At Inter, Lukaku is a player who [Simone] Inzaghi did not want to leave anyway, then he left but Inter did very well anyway. 

"So he is a player who certainly can be important for Inter and that the coach clearly values, and he will certainly do well paired with Lautaro Martinez. 

"Then there are many attackers who are possibly leaving. Nobody knows who will come out and who will arrive again. But Lukaku and Martinez are already well tested."

Eddie Jones has the respect of England's players but must deliver results if he is to lift pressure from his shoulders ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup, according to former Australia captain George Gregan.

Experienced coach Jones had his future called into question on the back of another poor Six Nations campaign for England, who finished a distant third behind Ireland and champions France with two wins from five matches.

Jones is under contract until after the 2023 World Cup and has been given the support of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), although performance director Conor O'Shea confirmed in March the search is under way for the 62-year-old's long-term successor.

Former Australia boss Jones has repeatedly stated that peaking in time for next year's showpiece in France is his big aim, with his side's three-Test series Down Under – their first summer tour in four years – providing an opportunity to further experiment.

While Gregan can understand the questions being asked of Jones, the retired scrum-half – who played under Jones for Australia and the Brumbies – understands supporters want to see signs of progress now.

"I think pressure is always there with a head coach," said Gregan, ahead of Saturday's first Test in Perth. "I'm not going to speak on his behalf, but he knows that as a head coach it's all results driven in professional sport.

"If you're not getting the results, and particularly if you're not getting consistent Ws [wins], then it does come around: 'Why is the team not performing?' That was definitely the case with Six Nations where there's patches of really good performances.

"But then obviously some things also which can get taken out of your hands, which is decision-making, you lose plays in the bin, all that kind of stuff. But that's rugby. And so how do you adapt? And how do you adjust? But they're all good experiences and learning experiences.

"I know there was no Jonny May, there was no Owen Farrell, there's a lot of players missing in that Six Nations campaign, they'll probably take part in this coming tour. And then he's built a nice squad."

Gregan is supporting The Open Championship Claret Jug Tour, partnered with HSBC UK, and he added: "I think you've always got your eyes a little bit ahead for the World Cup. And that's definitely the case for someone like Eddie and all coaches, but it's also the here and now, and they'll be looking to really improve and try not to drop out of games. I think every good team wants to do that."

 

England may have struggled for consistent form, but they have won their last eight Tests against Australia since October 2015, conceding an average of just 14 points per game across the last four of those matches.

Jones is undefeated against his country of birth during his near-seven-year England tenure, meanwhile, and famously oversaw a series whitewash in 2016.

Gregan believes the England boss will have the full backing of his dressing room.

"Eddie is a real players' coach. He's really driven to create the best environment for his players to perform," Gregan said. "He's the hardest marker on the team's performance on himself. I think you see that a lot.

"He'll deflect to the team when it's doing well, and he’ll take ownership when it's not doing well. That's a classic head coach, and he's never wavered from that. And I think that's why the players really respect him.

"He's hard, he's very consistent in terms of his messaging. He's very clear on what he wants the team to do. But he also empowers the playing group to try and do that. And that's the coach's coach.

"And ultimately, I think from my experiences with Eddie, he really wants the players to be sort of taking the reins on the field and making sure they're really comfortable making decisions to provide support.

"But as you know, coaches are sort of in the grandstand, there's only a limited amount that they can do once the players are on the pitch. I think that's what he tries to do, and all good head coaches try to encourage those leaders and the players on the field to make good decisions, which hopefully put you on the right side of the ledger."

Australia have lost three straight Tests heading into their first fixture with England this weekend, two of those by a margin of no more than two points – the last time they lost more successive games was a four-game stretch from June to August in 2018.

However, the Wallabies have won their last four matches on home turf, and four of their past seven when hosting European opposition, which Gregan believes will make for an entertaining series.

"England playing Australia in any sport is always exciting – particularly rugby," Gregan said. "Obviously there's that little touch with Eddie being a former Wallabies coach and obviously Australian. And he's had a great record against the Wallabies since he's taken over the helm in English rugby.

"It's gonna be a fantastic series, Dave Rennie, the Wallaby coaching staff and the playing group will be really targeting the series as something, which is another step in the right direction for being consistent and beating some of the top international teams.

"Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, on the bounce. So, three big Test matches over three consecutive weeks. And I think both teams, stating the obvious, will want to get off to a pretty hot start in Perth, because it's always good to be one up in those types of series."


:: The Open Championship Claret Jug Tour will visit schools, golf clubs, city centres and HSBC branches.

Pam Shriver says Serena Williams has built an "all-time great legacy" in tennis and expressed her relief that the legendary American will make her comeback at Wimbledon.

Williams has 23 grand slam singles titles to her name and is just one short of Margaret Court's all-time record as the 40-year prepares to return to The All England Club as a wildcard.

She has not played a singles match since suffering an ankle injury in last year's Wimbledon opener against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Seven-time Wimbledon singles champion Williams will face world number 113 Harmony Tan in the first round on Tuesday, hoping to prove doubters wrong once again.

Three years ago, Williams became the oldest player to reach the singles final at SW19 and in 2016 she became the oldest champion when she beat Angelique Kerber.

Shriver, who reached the last four at Wimbledon in 1981, 1987 and 1988, cannot wait to see Williams back on court at the grass-court major.

"It's fantastic. I mean a month ago, I said it in interviews during Paris [the French Open], it just didn't look likely, there were no signs that were pointing towards her coming back," Shriver told Stats Perform.

"She hadn't posted anything of her workouts, never said anything about it. She'd sort of hinted at it sort of playful way like with a post with Aaron Rodgers, one of our best quarterbacks here.

"And she had sort of put it out there that she was going to play Wimbledon, but then it was like, okay, but who are you working with? Where are you practising? How much are you? Or how much time are you putting into it?

"You're going to go 12 months without a singles match and just rock up at Wimbledon. But it is great news that our last sighting of Serena on the tennis court isn't her limping off Centre Court last year midway through a first set."

 

Williams' first major title came 23 years ago at the US Open and Shriver has hailed her compatriot's astonishing longevity.

"It's an all-time great legacy, starting in 1999 when she won her first major as a 17-year-old at the US Open, upsetting [Martina] Hingis on Arthur Ashe Court," she added.

"She was the first of the Williams sisters to win a singles major. She's been making history since the late 1990s.

"She is now entering her fourth decade of trying to make history on the court and I think it's been exciting to have watched most of it.

"[There are] little things that are so impressive, her Olympic record, incredible. The way she won the gold medal in London in 2012 was as dominant a performance I've ever seen on a foreign tennis court.

"She and Venus are 14-0 in major doubles finals. So look, if you compare her numbers to Martina Navratilova’s numbers, tournament wins-wise, then Martina blows Serena away.

"But that was back in an era where the intent was to play a lot more and there was more of an emphasis placed on tour titles. During Serena’s 20-odd-year career, the emphasis the entire time has been on how many majors can you win. And that's what she's been focused on, especially in the last 10 years."

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