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Chelsea sent Enzo Maresca next manager message as Todd Boehly solves Mauricio Pochettino problem

Enzo Maresca
-Credit: (Image: Copa)


The appointment of Enzo Maresca to become Chelsea's new head coach is edging ever closer, football.london understands.

The club's co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart are due in Spain today (Tuesday) to negotiate a deal with Maresca. The Italian coach is set to sign a five-year contract with Chelsea if all goes well after he emerged as the Blues' first-choice from a four-man shortlist.

The likes of Kieran McKenna, Roberto De Zerbi and Thomas Frank have been considered as well but Chelsea are said to have been mightily impressed with Maresca during their conversations so far. The 44-year-old led Leicester City to the Championship title last season in what was his debut campaign at the King Power Stadium.

Having worked under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, comparisons between the the Catalonian and the Italian were inevitable - and also understandable. But are they fair? Bobby Vincent sat down with Leicester supporter Josh Holland to discuss all things Maresca and offer you more of an insight about the manager Chelsea are getting...

Just what sort of impact did Maresca have at Leicester last season?

"The impact from Maresca was clear to see in his first few weeks at the club. In a pre-season friendly at Northampton, the overhaul of the playing style Leicester had been used to was blatant and the signs were encouraging.

"In his first competitive game, a 2-1 win over Coventry City, his passion on the sideline aligned with what supporters had been calling for from Brendan Rodgers before his exit so he instantly became a favourite. His cheeky persona in press conferences coupled with his style of play, connection with players and love for the supporters within the first couple of weeks of the season were the building blocks for what was a wonderful season."

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How long did it take Maresca to implement his style?

"At Northampton, we saw the right-back come inside alongside the central midfielder and two of the midfield three pushing forward. A week later, as you've probably seen yourself with the video doing the rounds on social media, they passed Liverpool off the park in the opening half hour before losing 4-0 - but the signs were there.

"The first games of the season were a tad hard to judge as we were getting used to it and the likes of Cardiff, Huddersfield and Rotherham all played just to nullify Leicester. Once we got into October, a set XI was in place and the system was getting stronger and stronger by the game."

How similar is his style to Pep Guardiola's?

"The comparisons to Pep Guardiola always used to frustrate me, especially at the start. Yet it became very clear that Maresca carried over many of the principles used at Man City to Leicester.

"The biggest similarity is the way of using an inverted wing-back to almost create a box with two midfielders and two centre-backs. That worked well and Ricardo Pereira enjoyed his best season yet.

"It is further forward where there are similarities that many don't pick up on. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's role of picking up spaces in between the lines to penetrate teams centrally or by utilising the support out side provided comparisons to the likes of Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.

"I also enjoyed the huge similarities with Leicester's wingers Stephy Mavididi and Abdul Fatawu to Man City's Phil Foden and Jeremy Doku. One is more composed when on the ball, looking to either pass centrally and follow his run - Mavididi/Foden. The other - Fatawu/Doku - are more erratic, young, rapid, who look to take on their man all of the time, offering something different.

"With the crop of wingers in Chelsea's current squad, I think Mykhailo Mudryk or Noni Madueke could be perfect for that."

What is his personality like?

"I think the reaction from Leicester fans over the past 48 hours has summed it up. There is certainly a feeling of admiration after he got the club back into the Premier League.

"Many point out that he should have got the job done with the squad he had but football just doesn’t work that way and coming into a football club after a surprise relegation, implementing a new style of play in one of the toughest divisions in football and then winning it takes some doing. Personality-wise, he’s a presence on the touchline who enjoys watching the game on the touchline with the occasional brief chat with his coaches.

"In press conferences, he often made fans laugh with his comments - the ‘huge game’ phrase about Leeds has been a popular one. However, with the fans, he certainly had his flaws with his stubbornness to change things or admit when he got it wrong. Build a relationship with him and he’ll shine, but he doesn’t react well to criticism from the supporters."

Mauricio Pochettino failed to win over a lot of Chelsea supporters. Do you think Maresca will have the same problem?

"Yes, 100 per cent, but I think any manager who comes in at Chelsea will face a tough task of winning over the fans. For some match-going fans, the football is boring and there’s no purpose behind it - they are wrong.

"But it’s not entertaining and Maresca has repeatedly said he doesn’t want his team to be counter-attacking. With that being said, he loves the feeling of winning and there were a number of times when he went over to supporters to applaud them, punching the air and joining in with the chants after a big win. He won over Leicester fans but there were certainly some who were never a big advocate."

And finally, do you think Maresca will be a success at Chelsea?

"I would like to think so. His football is nice to watch, in my opinion, and he’s confident in his own ability. He got the job done at Leicester and that’s the only evidence we can use to predict how he will get on at Chelsea. I do fear though, with Boehly’s track record, that a strange result like a 1-0 home defeat to Ipswich Town could see him out the door. But I do wish him all the best."