Enzo Maresca combines worst qualities of most-hated Chelsea pair and won’t last a season

Will Ford
Chelsea manager target Enzo Maresca
Enzo Maresca is the new head coach at Stamford Bridge.

Enzo Maresca has been handed a five-year deal at Chelsea despite being a combination of his two most widely deplored predecessors. Our money’s on a season at most.


“To join Chelsea, one of the biggest clubs in the world, is a dream for any coach,” Enzo Maresca said after his move from Leicester was confirmed on Monday. And while that’s a line so cliched to not merit a mention in the vast majority of instances, in Maresca’s case he can be forgiven for genuinely feeling as though at some point soon he’ll wake up and not be managing one of the biggest clubs in Europe on the back of 67 games of senior management.

None of those 67 games have been in a top-flight league and 14 of them led to his sacking from Serie B side Parma. He’s been hired on the back of one good season with Leicester, with his graduation from The School of Guardiola topping an otherwise sparse CV that’s inexplicably earned him a five-year contract at a club that hasn’t had a manager last that long since Dave Sexton 50 years ago. The average term of a permanent Chelsea manager since Claudio Ranieri became the first victim of the Roman Abramovich era is just 455 days.

Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali want stability after a self-inflicted two years of turbulence as owners of the club. But they’ve been here before. They preached long-term stability as being at the core of their strategy when Graham Potter was handed a five-year deal. They were trying then to distance themselves from the hire-and-fire culture that epitomised Abramovich’s 19-year ownership, but that same policy has become the defining factor of their reign, minus all the silverware that previously came with it.

Potter lasted 31 games, the fewest of any permanent Chelsea manager in the Premier League era, and they had to hand him £13m in compensation, having paid Brighton £22m to secure his arrival just over six months before.

It was a disaster, with Potter’s lack of authority in the dressing room and hostility from the fans leaving the club with little option but to send him packing.

We can’t speak to Maresca’s ability to hold court or earn the respect of his players. Given ‘All or Nothing’ documentaries apparently featured prominently in Chelsea’s research for their new boss, we’ve got to assume they see Maresca as a Pep Guardiola or a Pep Guardiola-lite like Mikel Arteta. But as far as we know, people working under Guardiola don’t absorb his motivational skills or genius by osmosis.

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Any chink in the armour will be set upon by the Chelsea players – many of whom formed a great relationship with Mauricio Pochettino and were baffled by his departure – and as was the case with Potter, even more so for Maresca, a key weakness is inexperience at the highest level.

The Chelsea fans were never really on board with Potter; the results weren’t great and he wasn’t angry enough about it. The atmosphere at Stamford Bridge was as toxic as it had been since Maurizio Sarri left the club to choruses of ‘f*** Sarriball’ in 2019. The Leicester fans can empathise with frustration over a style of football.

“I arrive in this club to play with this idea,” Maresca said after Leicester’s 3-1 win over Swansea in January. “The moment there is some doubt about the idea, the day after, I will leave.”

Oh dear. Maresca loves the football, which is fine. But as was the case when Sarri was in charge at Chelsea, the fans felt he valued possession at the cost of entertainment, which is not fine.

The owners and co-sporting directors – rightly or wrongly – see a possession-based style as the key to success and longevity. But if Mr Maresca is going to last longer than a season, we would strongly advise him against threatening to quit upon murmurings of discontent at Stamford Bridge, because they will come, and be followed by full-on boos when the fans get a sniff of their impact on his future.

He might be brilliant. He might be the legacy manager the current regime have been desperate for. But in seemingly being a combination of possibly the two most widely deplored Chelsea managers of the last two decades, it feels far more likely that Boehly and Eghbali will be signing another hefty compensation cheque this time next year, if not before.