Leicester City
Enzo Maresca led Leicester City to the Championship title last season Image Credit: X/Leicester City

With Chelsea set to offer a five-year deal to Leicester City's Enzo Maresca, is he really the man to turnaround the problems at a club where major silverware was once the primary currency?

Ever since Roman Abramovich was disqualified by the Premier League from owning Chelsea after having sanctions imposed on him by the UK government following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the club have struggled to replicate the success they had under his stewardship.

Abramovich had an infamously high turnover of managers, 13 to be exact, during his reign between 2003 and 2022.

While that attracted many critics, myself included, it worked.

The club clinched 18 trophies, including five Premier League titles and two Champions League triumphs, to make them the most decorated English club in that time.

Since a consortium of investors led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and private equity giant Clearlake Capital undertook ownership of Chelsea in May 2022, the club have been through five coaches.

Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter and Mauricio Pochettino were all given the reigns at the club, while Bruno Saltor and Frank Lampard held short-lived interim roles in that period.

The London club did not win any silverware under those five managers during Bohely’s tenure and have finished the last two Premier League seasons in sixth and 12th.

They’ve also spent a staggering €1.08 billion on new signings in only four transfers windows in that time.

If Boehly and Co are trying to replicate the Abramovich era of twisting every time something doesn’t go as planned, it certainly isn’t working.

Under Abramovich, Chelsea bought in big game players such as Eden Hazard, Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole and Michael Ballack to drive them to success.

On the other hand, Boehly has signed an astonishing total of 34 players, mostly gambling on young and upcoming footballers to lead the line for years to come.

A very small selection of them risks have paid off, but the majority haven’t.

The singing of Cole Palmer from once title rivals Manchester City was an astute piece of business, which was evident when the youngster scored 22 goals and assisted 11 more in his debut campaign en route to being crowned the Premier League’s Young Player of the Season.

But as good as that signing was, it has been cancelled out by a plethora of badly judged decisions from the hierarchy at the club.

The £115m they paid for Moises Caicedo looks a ridiculous figure after what can only be described as an average season at best.

Then there’s the £88.5m singing of Mykhailo Mudryk, which looks to be one of the worst bits of business in recent times, with the Ukrainian contributing just five goals and four assists in 46 Premier League appearances.

It’s not his fault the price tag was so large, but a player of that calibre should be delivering a whole lot more.

Mykhailo Mudryk has been a flop since joining Chelsea Image Credit: Reuters

I could go on and on about the mistakes Bohely’s Chelsea have made in the transfer windows, but to cut a long story short, if they continue with this Fantasy Football approach, they will not be lifting major silverware any time soon.

While Chelsea didn’t perform anywhere near the way they should have done last season, I do feel that Pochettino should have been given more time rather than get the boot after he had led the club to five successive victories to end the season.

Having to deal with Bohely’s excessive transfer policy would not have been easy task for any manger, whether you’re Mauricio Pochettino or the great Sir Alex Ferguson.

But it finally looked like the former PSG manager was getting through to his young group of players as they clinched a place in Europe on the final day of the Premier League season.

How he would have fared next season, your guess is as good as mine, but I think it’s fair to say the wiser move would have been to keep him on for at least one more year rather than pressing the reset button.

It worked for Abramovich as he bought in players that already had pedigree in the game and were proven winners.

This new look, young Chelsea side is a project, and projects take time.

And that’s where Maresca will step in, with the Guardian reporting he is to accept the vacant managerial job after an intense weekend of talks.

The Italian has previously led Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad to the Premier League 2 title and taken Leicester City back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Sandwiched between that was an unsuccessful stint at Parma, where he was sacked after just 14 games.

But perhaps the standout experience on his CV is his time spent as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City.

Leicester City
Leicester City celebrate their Championship success Image Credit: Leicester City/X

Learning from who is without doubt the best manager in the game over the last decade is invaluable and Chelsea will be hoping he can follow in the footsteps of another of Guardiola’s former assistants, Mikel Arteta.

Since joining Arsenal as their manager in 2019, the Spaniard has led the Gunners to FA Cup glory in 2020, but more importantly, title challengers once again.

But it’s worth noting, their ascent to the upper echelons of the Premier League table has taken four to five years to achieve.

If Maresca is to turn things around at Chelsea, will he be given the same amount of time to achieve results?

The rumoured five-year deal makes you think that he just might do. But given Bohely’s track record, you also wouldn’t back against Chelsea being on the hunt for another manager next summer.

Just like Guardiola, Maresca places emphasis on a deep build-up strategy, aiming to beat the high press with short, controlled passes from the back.

His Leicester team also scored plenty of goals last season, 89 in total – only bettered by Ipswich Town - so Chelsea fans have reason to be hopeful he could be the man to finally give the team an identity once again.

Too many times last season, they looked lost and without a game plan. Something Maresca will need to address immediately if he is to have any sort of success.

There is also reason for Chelsea fans to be cautious.

Despite Leicester being crowned champions of the Championship last season, several Foxes’ fans had been calling for the sacking of Maresca.

In January, the club enjoyed a healthy 17-point lead at the top of the league, but by late March they found themselves outside the top two automatic promotion spots following a dismal run of form.

Would that be tolerated in the cutthroat world of Chelsea Football Club? Doubtful, even if Leicester did eventually win the league.

It’s a huge gamble for Chelsea to put their faith in the 44-year-old turning around the fortunes of the club, as they look to compete for the game’s grandest prizes once again.

With no prior experience in Europe’s top leagues, it’s a highly questionable call by Chelsea chiefs to sack a manager with prior experience of dealing with youngsters and managing elite level clubs to replacing him with someone who’s biggest achievement to date is winning the Championship.

Add a splash of Bohely’s crazy transfer strategy and his impatience into the mix and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.

Maybe I’ll be wrong, but I can’t see this appointment ending well for either party.