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Enzo Maresca's strict rule revealed as Reece James and Ben Chilwell sent Chelsea warning

Leicester City Manager Enzo Maresca ahead of the Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final match between Chelsea and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on March 17, 2024
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)


It was a 'three-year project' that barely lasted five months – Enzo Maresca's managerial baptism of fire with Serie B outfit Ascoli abruptly ended in dismay.

Following his shock resignation in November 2017, the former Juventus and Sevilla midfielder said: "Things outside football have become uncontrollable; consequently, there are no longer any conditions to continue."

A humiliating 4-0 defeat at Parma, which had left the team rooted to the foot of the table, proved to be the final straw for obsessive No. 2 Maresca. Ascoli had initially planned to appoint the Italian as their manager, but he did not hold the required coaching licence to fulfil the role and therefore worked in tandem with Fulvio Fiorin in the dugout.

Yet, although he was technically second in command, the club's players were under no illusions as to exactly who was in charge. In an exclusive interview with the Mirror, former Ascoli midfielder Gianluca Carpani recalled: "Enzo was a former player, so he was well respected, and everyone listened to him because he had a very good career.

"He really liked being in groups, so always organised lunches and dinners with both his fellow staff and players. He had a style that I really liked, and he certainly needed more time to implement this idea and to bring results. Unfortunately, the results didn't arrive and it didn't last too long."

Those reflections should serve as a warning to those expecting instant success at Chelsea following Mauricio Pochettino's controversial exit. When Maresca was officially introduced at Ascoli, he made clear the direction in which he aimed to steer the ship.

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Signing his first-ever coaching contract seven years ago in central Italy, he said: "For the future, we are thinking step by step; we want to be part of a three-year project, but for the moment, we are focused only on tomorrow."

The fact that he served as Pep Guardiola's assistant at Manchester City hints at his understanding and commitment to developing players on the training pitch – something he showcased in full force last term at Leicester when he guided them to the Championship title.

Even his struggles at Ascoli didn't detract him from his journey instead, they stoked the fires of determination needed to excel at the highest level. Now aged 44, Maresca's philosophy continues to revolve around maintaining possession, setting tactical traps, and exploiting space with speed.

Speaking to the Mirror, Carpani further detailed the new Chelsea boss' methodology. He said: "He worked a lot on the positional changes of all players, especially the full-backs and attacking wingers in a 4-3-3 system.

"He also worked with the defensive line in a particular way, they always had to stop at the edge of the penalty area and were not allowed to enter the box during training so the team stayed high.

"What stood out was that he always gave you solutions that you could bring onto the pitch and you always knew exactly what to do.

"On a personal level, I learned a lot, especially some important movements he taught me as a midfielder which I still carry with me today. He tried many new things which always made me think he was a great coach.

"I always believed in Enzo because he was full of so many beautiful ideas. He also demonstrated that with Leicester where he achieved great results – I wish him the best."