free hit counter code I was Enzo Maresca’s manager at West Brom – another Chelsea boss was his team-mate and gave him lifts to training – Freeht.buzz

I was Enzo Maresca’s manager at West Brom – another Chelsea boss was his team-mate and gave him lifts to training

WEST BROM’S team of 1998-99 may seem an unlikely breeding ground for future Chelsea managers.

But Enzo Maresca is following in the footsteps of his ­former Baggies team-mate Graham ­Potter by being appointed to take charge at Stamford Bridge by American owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali.

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Enzo Maresca is set to become Chelsea’s latest manager[/caption]

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He played for West Brom during the 1990s in the Championship[/caption]

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Ex-Chelsea boss Graham Potter was a team-mate of his at the Hawthorns[/caption]

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Their former West Brom boss Denis Smith spoke exclusively to Sun Sport[/caption]

Full-back Potter used to give teenaged midfielder Maresca a lift to training, after his free transfer from Cagliari.

Now he will see his former colleague take the Chelsea job from which he was sacked in April last year.

Denis Smith, the Albion manager who brought Maresca to England as a teenager, said: “That’s now two Chelsea managers who have come from that West Brom team I managed — so I must have been teaching them something right!”

West Brom finished ­mid- table in the old First Division — now the Championship — before Smith was sacked.

Yet they ended up pocketing a club-record £4million by selling Maresca to Juventus the ­following season.

And former Sunderland boss Smith reckons the Italian showed a rare footballing intelligence — even then.

Smith, 76, recalled: “I had already brought another Italian — Mario Bortolazzi — to West Brom and the agent asked me to have a look at an 18-year-old kid who was available on a free.

“He trained with us for less than half an hour and I told the agent, ‘He’ll do me!’

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“Enzo could barely speak English but it didn’t matter. He was clearly a bright kid and, boy, could he pick a pass.

“If you wanted him to sit in and play as a holding midfielder, he understood that role so well, but he was also very useful going forward. He had pretty much everything.


“We got him for free but West Brom ended up selling him to Juventus for a lot of money — after I had been sacked!

“Most of the time we were together, I used the other ­Italian lad (Bortolazzi) as a translator.

“But Enzo just had such intelligence that it didn’t feel like communication was an issue.

“He was only young but when someone reads the game like he could, it doesn’t surprise you when they go on to be successful as a coach and manager.

“There weren’t many players coming over from Europe to the First Division back then in the 90s.

“But it was a good market of mine, as we proved with Maresca. It was a bold move for him to come to England at such a young age but that intelligence made it easy for him to settle over here.

“Professional footballers — as I often tell people — are a more intelligent bunch than they are given credit for and Enzo was one of the brightest.”

Meet Pep Guardiola disciple Enzo Maresca

Enzo Maresca is considered among the most exciting young coaches on the planet.

Born in Italy in 1980, he managed to guide Leicester to the Championship title in his first season as Foxes boss.

His management career started at Italian minnows Ascoli before he was snapped up by Man City in 2020 to manage their Elite Development Squad.

He guided the youth team to the Premier League 2 title in his one season working for the Citizens – with Cole Palmer in the side.

His first senior job was with Parma but he was sacked after just a few months after failing to impress.

Despite the team playing in Serie B and Maresca having an impressive squad he was unable to get them on course for promotion.

He returned to Man City and worked as one of Pep Guardiola’s assistants for the 2022/23 season as they won the Treble.

He took over relegated Leicester last summer and made an immediate impact, with the Foxes winning the Championship title.

Maresca showed his dedication to the job by living at the training ground for the first two months after his appointment.

He’s considered something of a Pep disciple and has said: “For a coach, it’s important to have the mentality of a chess player.”

During his playing career he played under Carlo Ancelotti and Marcello Lippi – and alongside ex-Brighton boss Roberto de Zerbi.

Maresca would go on to win Serie A with Juventus and two Uefa Cups with Sevilla before he managed Manchester City’s reserves under Pep Guardiola.

After a brief unsuccessful spell in charge of Italian Serie B club Parma, Maresca led Leicester to the Championship title last season.

After Chelsea triggered his £10million Foxes release clause, 44-year-old Maresca is following Potter into the Stamford Bridge hotseat — vacated by Mauricio Pochettino earlier this month.

And their old boss Smith — who also managed York, Bristol City, Oxford and Wrexham — said: “They go through a lot of managers at Chelsea but, however impatient they are, it is still a job Enzo will feel he had to take.

“They are one of the biggest clubs in Europe and anyone with ambition would want a crack at it.

“The best coaches and managers are the ones who recognise that football is such a complex game but can deliver their messages in simple terms to ­players without over-complicating it.

“That is an ability that Graham Potter has and it doesn’t surprise me that Maresca has it, too.”

Leicester fans won’t miss Maresca

By Graeme Bryce

It’s fair to say most Leicester fans were not exactly pleading with Maresca to stay.

OK, they were not queueing up and offering to drive him to Stamford Bridge.

But there will not be too many tears shed or much wailing at the King Power either.

The fans’ attitude to losing their incredibly successful boss could be summed up in a word: ‘Meh’.

Maresca failed to win over the paying public who never really took to his patient, possession-based style of football.

Having been brought up — some would say spoiled — by the swashbuckling title winners of 2016, with Jamie Vardy spearheading manager Claudio Ranieri’s shock champions, Maresca never really got off the ground at the King Power.

So it will be interesting to see what Chelsea’s notoriously impatient fans make of Maresca’s ‘death by a thousand cuts’ style of play.

It was not long before some of the old-school Leicester fans started moaning that Maresca’s patient, play-out-from-the-back style was becoming too boring to watch.

During a 3-1 win over Swansea which left them ten points clear at the top, there were moans and groans coming from the stands amid cries of, ‘Get the ball forward’.

Fans accused him of stubbornly sticking to his Plan A — even when it was not working — and claimed he was way too slow to make substitutions.

But one thing Blues fans can look forward to is his man-management and his attention to detail.

And the Foxes players also adored their manager.

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