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Enzo Maresca masterminded shock win over Chelsea while coaching London rivals

Enzo Maresca
-Credit: (Image: Michael Regan/)


Chelsea target Enzo Maresca already has experience beating the Blues in the Premier League – despite having not yet managed in England's top flight.

The Leicester City boss is understood to have held talks with Chelsea regarding the vacant hot seat at Stamford Bridge. The west Londoners are without a manager after Mauricio Pochettino left by mutual consent earlier this month, while Maresca's stock is high after guiding the Foxes back to the top flight as winners of the Championship.

His career has progressed well in recent years, and it's now almost five years since Maresca, 44, reportedly masterminded a shock 1-0 win for West Ham while an assistant coach to Manuel Pellegrini. The Chilean was under the microscope at the time with the Hammers struggling in the run up to Christmas, but extended his lifespan by upsetting the Blues away from home – however, the triumph wasn't entirely his.

It later emerged Maresca was the man responsible for devising their tactics in west London that day in November 2019, The Guardian reported. Aaron Cresswell supplied the only goal of the game to keep West Ham's heads above the relegation zone at the time, though it was only enough to delay Pellegrini's departure by one month.

The Hammers nailed their strategy, with Maresca said to have taken over training in the lead up to the game, and forced Chelsea wide due to the hosts' preference of playing through the middle. It was executed to perfection and ended West Ham's 17-year wait for a win at the Bridge.

Pellegrini's decision to defer responsibility to his assistant that week paid dividends, and the South American may have staved off the sack even longer had he repeated the tactic. However, Pellegrini was eventually fired in December 2019 after restoring his usual methods – to no effect.

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Fast-forward to today, and Maresca could be the man to take over from Pochettino this summer as he makes the step up to Premier League level. The Italian took over at the King Power Stadium in June 2023 and took Leicester back up at the first time of asking, winning four Championship Manager of the Month awards along the way.

The former Juventus and West Brom midfielder's only previous senior management role was a six-month spell at Parma, which ended in disappointment after he won just four of his 14 games in charge. He then returned to Manchester City as one of Pep Guardiola's assistants, having previously worked at the club as manager of the elite development squad.

Leicester City Manager Enzo Maresca during the Leicester City press conference at Leicester City Training Ground, Seagrave on May 03, 2024
Maresca appears to be leading the race to become Chelsea's next manager -Credit:Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

Having been impressed by what they've seen of the candidate on his way back to England's top flight, Chelsea have seemingly decided they'd rather have Maresca on their side. And it could prove well worth the risk given he already has a history of winning at Stamford Bridge.