LEICESTER FAN VIEW: Enzo Maresca joining Chelsea will be met with little more than a sigh and a shrug... despite leading the Foxes back to the Premier League, his style of play failed to win everyone over

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca is expected to join Chelsea imminentlyHe guided Leicester back to the Premier League in his first season in chargeSunday league, grassroots, pub football… how Pep’s influence has trickled down the pyramid - Listen to the It's All Kicking Off podcast

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that seeing the manager who just got your team promoted being nicked by Chelsea might wind you up a bit.

A big team swooping in on your exciting young coach before he’s even had a chance to keep you in the Premier League. What’s the bloody point, it’s a joke and so on.

For me, though, and for many other Leicester City supporters, the news that Enzo Maresca is off to Stamford Bridge was met with a sigh and a shrug. ‘Is he? That’s a shame. Oh well, never mind. Is it the recycling this Thursday or next?’

Maybe it should annoy me more. Maresca is, above all, an excellent coach. He’s a disciple of Pep Guardiola and it showed. He thinks like him, speaks like him, wants his full-backs to invert and his goalkeepers to step into the defensive line like him. He even looks like him and has a nice little beard like him too. He was Poundshop Pep and that was just what Leicester needed.

Maresca inherited a relegated club with its soul torn out and a divide between the Leicester fans, players and hierarchy wider and seemingly more irreparable than it had been in a long, long time.

Enzo Maresca led Leicester to the Championship title in his first season at the club

Enzo Maresca led Leicester to the Championship title in his first season at the club

He is now set to join Todd Boehly's Chelsea, with a deal expected to be concluded this week

He is now set to join Todd Boehly's Chelsea, with a deal expected to be concluded this week

Losing Maresca is not a big blow for Leicester as his style of play was never fully accepted by some fans

Losing Maresca is not a big blow for Leicester as his style of play was never fully accepted by some fans

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Leicester had gone from the club everyone outside the Big Six saw as a beacon of how to run a non-elite side – title winners, FA Cup winners, Community Shield winners – to being relegated with the seventh-highest wage bill in the Premier League.

Maresca galvanised everyone. New faces, a new style, a new feel. Players looked like they enjoyed wearing a Leicester shirt again. All aboard the Marescalator.

Read More

Chelsea hope to appoint Enzo Maresca as their new manager THIS WEEK after seeking formal permission to speak to the Leicester boss… with promoted Foxes due an eight-figure compensation sum

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It helps, of course, when you win 13 of your first 14 Championship games but that was because of Maresca. No fan expected that, really, after James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Youri Tielemans left in the summer. Instant promotion was the only target and, in the end, he delivered it with a title.

So why has the news of his departure not been met with universal grief and anger?

For a start, Leicester are used to losing people to Chelsea. N’Golo Kante, Danny Drinkwater, Ben Chilwell. Maresca is just the next one. This is a club, too, once built on selling a key player every season and investing the cash. When they stopped doing so for one summer under Brendan Rodgers, the foundations began to collapse. Unless your name is Jamie Vardy, we are used to saying goodbye.

For all his achievements this season, too, Maresca never quite got all Leicester fans on board with his style. Like mentor Guardiola, Maresca is about dominance and control. Only Southampton, Guardiola’s City and Notts County had more possession in the league this season than Leicester.

Leicester are used to losing people to Chelsea, with N'Golo Kante moving to Stamford Bridge after just one season at the King Power Stadium

Leicester are used to losing people to Chelsea, with N'Golo Kante moving to Stamford Bridge after just one season at the King Power Stadium

Ben Chiwell followed four years later, and Maresca will be the next high-profile name to switch the Midlands for west London

Ben Chiwell followed four years later, and Maresca will be the next high-profile name to switch the Midlands for west London

Maresca thinks of football like chess. That will never be accepted by all Leicester fans. Many, yes, as the supporters’ chant that Leicester would go ‘straight back up’ playing football ‘the Enzo way’ would suggest. But never all. This is a fan base that still remembers winning the Premier League with 42 per cent possession.

Times change but some will always prefer Whac-A-Mole to chess.

Those who didn’t like Maresca’s style, hated it even more when Leicester went from a side destined for promotion by March with a record points tally to one that lost six out of 10 going into the end of April as Maresca refused to deviate from his stone tablet.

When Leicester eventually secured promotion, there was as much a sigh of relief as a leap for joy.

The thought of playing that way – and only that way – in a relegation battle next season was enough to give those detractors the heebie-jeebies. Especially when that season is expected to start with a hefty points deduction.

Leicester’s finances are in turmoil. They lost £215million over their last three Premier League seasons. Punishments, whichever league they ended up in, were always likely to follow.

Leicester need the compensation fee they will receive for Maresca, and some fans believe they will benefit from having a more pragmatic approach when they return to the Premier League

Leicester need the compensation fee they will receive for Maresca, and some fans believe they will benefit from having a more pragmatic approach when they return to the Premier League

Chelsea will have to pay Leicester around £10m for Maresca. That’s money Leicester need if they are to start levelling their books.

There’s also the feeling that Leicester might, for now, be better with someone more pragmatic and less single-minded to get them through what lies ahead. Now, perhaps, is not the time for chess.

So, thank you for the season, Enzo. Thanks for promotion and thanks for the memories. All the best at Chelsea. Given time, I think you’ll do well. I hope so. Anyway, time to put the bins out.

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