Football News

The underlying stats behind Chelsea’s managerial target and Pep Guardiola disciple Enzo Maresca

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 14:30, 31 May 2024 | Updated: 14:37, 2 June 2024

Leicester City boss Enzo Maresca is reportedly set to become the new Chelsea head coach.

Whoever takes over from Mauricio Pochettino will be Chelsea’s seventh permanent manager in six years and the fourth during Clearlake Capital’s two-year reign, following Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter, and Pochettino.

The 44-year-old coach, who took over from Dean Smith last summer, was charged with bringing Leicester back to the top division of English football. He signed a three-year deal and accomplished this task.

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Following a short and unsuccessful period at Parma in 2021, this was his second managerial job, where he managed 14 matches, winning four and losing five.

Maresca played for nearly two decades, featuring for teams such as West Brom, Juventus, Fiorentina, Sevilla, Malaga, and Sampdoria. He began his coaching career at Ascoli, assisting Fulvio Fiorin before moving on to Sevilla, where he worked with Vincenzo Montella.

Afterwards, he became a technical coach at Sevilla before joining Manuel Pellegrini at West Ham as his assistant. He then became the U23 coach at Manchester City, impressing Pep Guardiola with his performances.

“We are delighted with Enzo Maresca, all the organisation he has done with the EDS, he showed he will become an extraordinary manager in the future. Extraordinary,” he said in 2021 after Maresca led the Man City development squad to the Premier League 2 title

“I feel it. Like I felt it when I saw Mikel Arteta I see it with Enzo, [he] will be an extraordinary manager and he helped to develop many, many young players.”

It earned him a move to Parma, though it wouldn’t be long until returning, and two seasons ago, Maresca, who replaced Juanma Lillo, helped Guardiola mastermind a historic treble.

After working alongside Guardiola and learning from his tactics and methods, it’s reasonable to expect that Maresca’s approach will be similar.

During last season’s Championship, which saw Leicester finish in first place, the Foxes had the second-most touches in the attacking third (8090), behind Southampton. They also averaged 622.67 passes per game, second only to Russel Martin’s team’s 657.02.

Southampton (66.1%) had the highest possession average, with Leicester following closely at 62.2%. These were the only two Championship teams with possession statistics in the 60s or higher.

Despite finishing third in terms of goals scored (89), Leicester’s approach was more calculated. Ipswich Town, the leading scorer, registered three more goals despite taking 59 more shots. Leicester also ended with the fewest goals conceded (41), but only 32.6% of their matches ended with a clean sheet, as their 15 shutouts paled compared to Leeds, who produced six more.

In setting up his team, he has predominantly used three different formations. The 4-3-3 formation has been the most commonly deployed in 29 matches, while he exclusively utilised a 4-2-3-1 formation in 15 games. The 3-4-3 and 3-4-2-1 formations were used on one occasion each.

He will likely start with a 4-3-3 formation as Chelsea seeks a return to former glory. Who will play in his system remains to be seen, as the club will be going through another summer of change, with several players expected to leave and join.