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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Chelsea go all in on new manager with everything to prove

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Chelsea wasted little time in getting their man, announcing Enzo Maresca as their new head coach on Monday. 

When Mauricio Pochettino was, somewhat unexpectedly, let go at the end of the Premier League season, there were a few big names available that the Blues could have grabbed.

Roberto De Zerbi seemed like an obvious one, having just parted ways with Brighton. Max Allegri, who enjoyed enormous success at Juventus, just came onto the market, too. Some even suggested they could secure a sensational return for either Thomas Tuchel or Jose Mourinho.

Instead, they turned to someone who has never managed a game in the English top flight, handing him a five-year contract with the option for a further year while paying Leicester City £10m in compensation. He’s also bringing with him a six-man strong backroom staff.

That is a huge investment for a club to make in a coach with so little experience at the highest level of the game. So why have they done it?

Chelsea were evidently beguiled by the manner in which Maresca guided the Foxes back to the Premier League, winning the Championship with an attractive, possession-based style of play that sees the full-backs tuck infield.

There’s also the fact that he is a Pep Guardiola acolyte, having previously worked with Manchester City’s youth players, and embodies the principles of one of the greatest managers ever seen. That’s led to him being dubbed a Diet Pep, but multiple reports claim the club see it as a major positive.

In the background, Chelsea clearly want to move away from manager-led recruitment, which is a smart step. Allowing transfers to be steered by the man in the dugout can lead to the kind of situation Manchester United find themselves in, where they have a ton of players bought under several different regimes for different reasons. It’s the kind of mess that is best avoided.

Maresca seemingly has no problem sliding into this system, otherwise he wouldn’t take on the role. Notably, his title will be ‘head coach’, with his focus firmly on improving the players he already has and will be given in the future.

It’s clear that Chelsea are trying to plan in the long term, but there will be pressure on Maresca to deliver results. The club will be hard pushed to meet Profit and Sustainability after spending ludicrous amounts of money since Clearlake Capital took over at Stamford Bridge. The easiest way for them to ease that burden is qualify for the Champions League – easier said than done.

Chelsea have been down this road before with Graham Potter. A younger, up-and-coming coach who they paid a lot money to get, with the hope of guiding a disparate group of players into the future. Todd Boehly seemed to have all the patience in the world with the former Brighton boss, before changing his mind when results failed to follow.

Will 2024/25 bring with it a sense of déjà vu?

Read – Chelsea consider activating bargain release clause

Transfer Rumours – Fernandes to Bayern, Mbappe mega deal, Agent Ronaldo

Tweets of the Week – Real do it again, Mourinho returns, best football ad ever

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