Enzo Maresca: the treble-winning assistant now in charge at Leicester City

Enzo Maresca
Enzo Maresca at Leicester City Credit: ITV News Central

From tasting success and European football to the Championship ... For many Leicester fans, the last few years are still barely believable.

But Leicester is now a very different club to the one they were this time last year. 

In July 2022, the club's fans were hoping for another season to build on, after getting to a first-ever European semi-final and finishing 8th.

Although the club weren't signing players, which was a concern, it was thought the quality that remained was still more than enough to achieve a top-half finish. 

King Power Stadium

We all know how the season panned out and now the Foxes are in July 2023 - a division lower, two managers later and one star player out the door. 

Leicester City are a club in transition. 

And yet, expectations will remain high with supporters. We all know how tough the Championship will be, but Foxes fans will want their club to be challenging at the top end.

Enzo Maresca Credit: Leicester City Football Club

"I consider Leicester a Premier League club"

Enter Enzo Maresca. 

The Italian joins from Manchester City where he was assistant to Pep Guardiola during the club's greatest ever season.

He comes with some English experience beyond this, starting his fledgling player career at West Brom

The challenge clearly excites him, calling Leicester 'an unbelievable club'. 

But if fans were expecting boom and bravado in this first press conference, they would have been disappointed.

Enzo Maresca Credit: ITV News Central

Maresca is fully aware of the target- promotion.

He sees the club as one that belongs in the Premier League, but also spoke with some caution and a need to take things day by day.

Once again this word 'transition' comes into play.

There will be a lot of fans who demand the play-offs at the very least but Maresca was careful not to over-promise.

I asked him if not making the top six would be considered a failure, and though he acknowledged that it was what everyone wanted to hear, he wasn't stressing about the situation, adding that next May is too far away. 

This cautious approach could be welcomed at a club that many considered 'too good to go down'.

Others will have made up their own mind and they will certainly regard missing out of the top six, a notable failure.

But Maresca clearly understood his brief in the press conference, coming across as calm and considered.

The emphasis was on a project rather than immediate results. 

He spoke of the possibility of more players following James Maddison out of the door, but also of more coming in following the arrivals of Conor Coady and Harry Winks. 

Leicester City's new signings Conor Coady (l) and Harry Winks (r) Credit: Leicester City Football Club

As for a playing style, would Leicester aim to be like Manchester City ?

Well when asked, he smiled, again not committing himself.

Anyone who knows Championship football knows how unforgiving, relentless and cruel it can be. Often style goes out of the window. 

The second tier is a hard grind, where results are chipped out of stone and not sculpted by soft hands.

To win in that division is to sometimes win ugly.

I asked Enzo if the mentality of players had to change - no more trips to The Etihad or to The Emirates, instead it's now Home Park in Plymouth and the John Smith's in Huddersfield.

He agreed, saying the players need to adapt and understand that they will be targeted. 

Any experienced players Leicester can keep hold of will be important in what happens next.

Whilst Maresca said he hoped talisman Jamie Vardy will stay and that he will be an important player for the club, he said much less about the talented Harvey Barnes.

Once again saying that the market is open, players can leave and players can also arrive.

There's likely to be significant movement before the start of the season.

And that is Coventry City, the play-off finalists, on Sunday 6th August, just a month away.

Before that time, there's also a pre-season tour in Thailand and Singapore, playing against Premier League opposition in both Tottenham and Liverpool - a top tier tour for a club who are keen to get back there. 

But back to the fans, who in the last ten years have experienced almost every conceivable emotion possible, at a club who's recent history, few can match. 

"First of all, We need the fans, especially in this moment, after last season, we need them more" said Maresca. 

He will be aware of their expectations, of the journey they've been on and he'll also be aware that those are the ones who will be helping to judge how successful his project is at the King Power.