Enzo Maresca: – The Latest Guardiola Protégé to Make His Mark in World Football

Enzo Maresca started his managerial career in June 2017. Since he lacked the necessary coaching credentials, he was signed as Fluvio Fiorin’s assistant coach for the forthcoming season as a member of the non-playing staff. He was appointed manager of Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad in August 2020.


Following two Premier League championships with the Manchester team, he was appointed as Parma’s new manager on May 27, 2021, when the team was competing in Serie B for the 2021–2022 season. Despite having big names in the form of Gianluigi Buffon and Franco Vazquez, he failed to put them in the promotion spot, causing him to be sacked on November 23, 2021.


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After his dismissal, he re-joined Manchester City as one of Pep Guardiola’s assistant managers and was a part of the Treble Winning Manchester City coaching staff in the 2023 season. He began his new journey on June 16, 2023, when he inked a three-year contract with Leicester City, the Championship team that had just been demoted. Maresca won four out of four games to earn the title of EFL Manager of the Month in August after spending his first two months at the team’s training facility.


His team scored 15 goals in a single month and continued to win six out of six games in October, earning him the title of EFL Manager of the Month once more. After helping Leicester finish the Calendar year at the top of the table with six victories and eighteen goals from seven games, he was given the accolade in December for the third time this season.


On April 29, just three days after winning promotion back to the Premier League, his Leicester team defeated Preston North End to win the EFL Championship. With 15 points out of a possible 21 in April, he earned his fourth EFL Manager of the Month title of the season. 


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Philosophy and Principles


Enzo Maresca enjoys controlling the ball and rotating it in a way that opens up holes and increases the likelihood of a successful assault. He plays by the famous SAF tenet, “With the ball, all players are attackers, without the ball all players are defenders.” As a result, his team is more likely to build up in the middle of the pitch and in traffic, which invites the opposition to press.


The opposition is then dragged, which opens up space in the attacking third. His players consistently appear to form shapes with four corners, which gives Number-8s more room to manoeuvre in confined spaces. When not moving the ball, he prefers to press high up the pitch using efficient man-to-man pressing. His fullbacks, on the other hand, are inverted within the pitch to counter press and win the ball back by getting more men inside the pitch.


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Pressing and Defensive Block


It’s interesting to watch Enzo’s team win the ball back because of their off-ball positioning. They play high up the pitch to take on every player in the opposing half, and they use man-to-man marking to close gaps and apply pressure, which has helped them create more opportunities in the championship this season.


He forces his fullback to invert during counterattacks or possession changes in order to close down midfield gaps and provide continual pressure to prevent the opposition from getting enough time with the ball. When out of possession, his players adopt a 4-5-1 defensive shape and are lined tightly to prevent line-breaking passes, freeing up the back four to focus on opponent runs.


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A winger with a good defensive IQ is essential to Maresca’s defensive transition since he frequently drops to the back line in a 5-4-1 formation to lessen the threat, which creates difficulties in the mid-3rd and defense-3rd. The back five will shift to consist of three centre backs and two full backs when the winger drops, increasing pressure on opposing players attempting to overlap or underlap.


He plays defenders with a high IQ who are adept at handling the ball at their feet. They form a three-man defence and must all be very accurate and skilled because they will frequently face 1v1 threats. The other two must be astute enough to fill gaps and launch challenges at the appropriate moments without making blunders, giving the adversary the upper hand, when one accepts the challenge.


Build-Up Play


The team of Enzo Maresca starts the game with a 4-1-4-1 formation, but as the game progresses, they switch to a three-man backline with a single pivot, with each fullback playing a distinct role. Either of the fullbacks can be seen drifting above the backline and acting as an extra pivot to help move the ball through the traffic, resulting in a 3-2 backline, depending on the philosophy and style of play.


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The three centre backs line up in accordance with how the ball is moving; in one scenario, they line up narrowly, giving the two 8s space along the centre and touchline to allow the attacking midfielders and the 10 to make runs or keep the ball moving until the right moment; in another scenario, they line up wide, giving the two 8s space to occupy the middle, act as pivots inviting pressure, and create one-on-one opportunities for the wingers.


Maresca adopts Pep Guardiola’s philosophy by starting his goalkeeper as the eleventh man in the build-up. The goalkeeper joins the back three to create an unbeatable foursome and helps his team break away from the opposition pressure. After a successful first full season in management, the Italian looks set to depart the King Power and replace Mauricio Pochettino in West London.




With the Italian set to sign a five-year contract as manager of Chelsea Football Club beginning next season, there appears to be opportunities to lead Chelsea to their rightful place. Goalkeepers, centre backs, midfielders, and strikers are the positions that need to be filled properly in order to increase competition for Christopher Nkunku, who could flourish under Maresca and return to the beast he was at RB Leipzig. Since this is just the start of a brand-new, intriguing enterprise, he needs time to get things right. But, as Chelsea Football Club and Enzo Maresca progress, they will dominate European football.


By: Sive Vishwa / @sive_vishwa

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / John Walton – PA Images