Ferrari sporting director says Sochi updates first step after ‘rock bottom’

Scuderia Ferrari says the updates it has brought to the Russian Grand Prix must be regarded as the “first small step” on its recovery after believing it has hit “rock bottom.”

Ferrari is in the midst of its worst campaign in 40 years and holds only sixth in the Constructors’ Championship at the mid-point of the delayed campaign.

It was a regular points contender early on, and even scored two podiums, but has form has tailed off in recent races, which included failing to take a top 10 at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.

Ferrari has brought minor aerodynamic revisions for its SF1000 at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix but has cautioned that they are primarily tasked at understanding where to improve for 2021.

Ferrari’s Sporting Director Laurent Mekies commented that the team’s trajectory after the opening rounds “was certainly not as we wanted otherwise we would not be in this situation.… Read the rest

Double Mugsmashers week incoming + the tumbleweeds of the transfer window

It’s Friday and later on Mikel Arteta will meet the press ahead of our trip to Anfield on Monday. That’s a very difficult game as we know, and we’ll be playing the Mugsmashers twice next week because last night they beat Lincoln City 7-2 in their third round Carabao Cup tie.

The dates of the fourth round fixtures haven’t been announced yet, but the games are scheduled to be played ‘in the week commencing September 28th’. Which is the very date we play them in the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp said last night, “Thank God we have two home games. Sorry, Mikel. You have to come to Liverpool twice!”

So, that certainly gives the manager something to think about for a fixture sandwiched between a game against the Champions and a home fixture against Sheffield United – who we know fine well are a good team after our encounters with … Read the rest

4-4-2 diamond: Unleashing Pogba the key to silencing the Seagulls

Manchester United need to get off the mark in the Premier League tomorrow but face a tricky away fixture against Brighton.

The Reds suffered a humiliating 3-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace in their opening fixture last weekend but managed a win and got more game time under their belts against Luton in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening.

The defence, with Dean Henderson in goal and Eric Bailly alongside Harry Maguire in the centre-back positions, looked a lot more solid than the De Gea – Lindelof – Maguire triad that let three in against Palace.

Based on his comments at this morning’s press conference, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have seen enough there to stick with Bailly alongside Maguire, but we think that he will keep faith once again in David de Gea in goal and that Dean Henderson will drop back to the bench.

Last week for the Palace … Read the rest

Klopp has admitted his coaching initially made Naby Keita worse…

Jurgen Klopp has intimated that Naby Keita will still have a massive role to play this season, despite the signing of Thiago potentially pushing him down the pecking order.

The coach was talking ahead of the Arsenal game on Monday night – and made some very interesting points about Liverpool’s no.8.

Jurgen Klopp admitted that when he tried to coach Keita after a few months of his arrival, the Guinean actually went backwards due to the tactical confusion and the fact he is a very natural, instinctive footballer – but that now – having adapted to England – he’s flying.

“The very beginning was very good. I didn’t speak to him about football – I just wanted him to his natural stuff – that was really good. Then I started coaching him – then it got worse!” Klopp said. 

“Naby had to learn the language, feel settled in the squad. Read the rest

International nightmare could continue for Man United star after this weekend because of this

With international fixtures on the horizon again, it’s time for national team managers to bed down their squad for upcoming games.

Gareth Southgate has matches against Wales, Denmark and Belgium to come, and must select the players to represent the Three Lions by next Thursday.

After a short summer break where he was arrested for allegedly assaulting police officers in Greece, Harry Maguire was left out of England’s last games.

The Man United captain comes back into contention for the triple header, but it’s possible that his national team nightmare could continue.

According to the Daily Mail, Southgate’s right-hand man, Steve Holland, will be in attendance at the AMEX Stadium this weekend, when Brighton and Hove Albion will host the Red Devils.

Two Serie A stars paying the price for Alvaro Morata move to Juventus

Juventus has just secured the signing of Alvaro Morata from Atletico Madrid in a season-long loan with a view of making the move permanent.

The deal is a major win for Juventus who have been looking for a new striker, but landing the Spaniard also ensured that two players who should have also gotten moves to new sides have to go back to the drawing board now.

TuttoSport reveals that Andrea Pirlo wanted to sign AS Roma striker, Edin Dzeko and the Bosnian was virtually a Juventus striker as of last weekend.

Juventus had managed to strike a deal with Roma for a fee in the region of 17 million euros after the Romans had rejected a 16 million euros offer for him.

Roma had already plotted a move for Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik and it was simply a case of when Dzeko joins Juventus, Milik will make the move to … Read the rest

Charles Leclerc on Ferrari upgrade for Sochi: “We don’t expect much performance from it”

Do you feel like you have outperformed the car this season, making the difference?
Charles Leclerc: “Overall this year I feel myself in a very good form, better than last year. I am trying to push the car at its limit in every session which helped my consistency. Surely I made mistakes sometimes, but there are also races where I took the risks and it worked out. We managed to do some podiums, lucky or not, we managed to do some podiums. I am happy with how the season is going on my side but there is still a lot to do. Last year I was pushing in qualifying, but there was a bit more left in FP1/FP2/FP3. Now I try to extract the maximum out of the car all the time and it seems to work for now.”

Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc on the Maranello team’s upgrade … Read the rest

Who are you?

The transfer market dominates football discourse and analysis to the point that the shark has been jumped and football matches are, essentially, considered 90-minute exercises to see what a team needs to buy. It gives me pause for thought when I attribute so much weight to Arsenal’s pursuit of a new central midfielder.

However, I do consider this a glaring requirement for Arsenal before the window closes next month and I think the difference between Arteta’s side being a top six team and a top four team probably rests on whether they are able to recruit in … Read the rest

Upamecano breaks silence amid links with Man United

RB Leipzig star Dayot Upamecano has responded to rumours over his future amid links with Manchester United this summer.

The young Frenchman is among the world’s highest-rated prospects and it was understood that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was keen on his signature.

Upamecano was previously thought of as being unavailable but once news over a release clause surfaced, rumours quickly grew out of control.

The release clause is only in effect from the next summer but the thinking was that United could bid a bit higher than that release clause to secure him this summer instead.

However, nothing to that effect has happened yet and it was more wishful thinking from fans than anything real.

Read the rest

MotM Curtis Jones says he’ll “show up” any time he’s called upon by Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool starlet Curtis Jones dropped a 10/10 performance for the Reds in the EFL Cup on Thursday night, bagging himself an impressive brace inside the first-half.

The midfielder was awarded the Man of the Match award after the full-time whistle for a great all around shift from the 19 year old.

Jones pledged that he will show up any time he’s called upon by manager Jurgen Klopp, in somewhat of an acceptance speech for the award!

I’ve always said, whenever I’m called upon I’ll give 100 per cent. I’m waiting for my turn, and any time I’m called upon I’ll show up, 100 per cent,he’s quoted as saying by Neil Jones.

MORE: (Video) Curtis Jones in insane form with first-half brace, which included Cruyff-turn and brilliant use of instep

We at Empire of the Kop love Jones and everything about him – from the way he … Read the rest