I’ve learned from Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and Gandhi – now I want to get Leicester back in the Premier League

ENZO MARESCA loves learning from the greats.

The Leicester boss played under legendary managers such as Carlo Ancelotti, Marcello Lippi and Manuel Pellegrini.

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca loves learning from the greats

Indian icon Mohandas Gandhi is a man that Maresca admires

He also worked as a coach under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and was assistant as they won the Treble last season.

And the Italian has recently finished reading a book about the life and times of India national hero Mohandas Gandhi, later known as Mahatma. 

Maresca, 43, told SunSport: “I read so many autobiographies. The one I liked recently was about Mohandas Gandhi.

“Sometimes when reading that kind of book, you can learn many things about how they managed some moments.”

Coincidentally there is a statue in Leicester of the civil rights activist who played a key role in India’s independence from the British Empire in 1947.

But it is from football that Maresca has learned the most.

The Italian has had a fascinating journey — from making his senior debut as a midfielder at West Brom aged 18 in English football’s second tier to rubbing shoulders with football royalty at the likes of Juventus, Fiorentina, Sevilla, Olympiacos, Malaga and Sampdoria.

He said: “I played under Denis Smith and then Brian Little at West Brom during the first two years of my career. That was 25 years ago. I was very young.


“The most important thing at that time was to take care of myself in another country as an 18-year-old boy. This was the most difficult thing but I enjoyed that time.

“Denis and Brian both trusted me a lot because they gave me the chance to play despite my age.”

Maresca swapped The Hawthorns for the more glitzy surroundings of Juve in 2000 after completing a £4.5million deal — a then record transfer for the Baggies.

He played under two of football’s managerial greats in Turin, in Ancelotti and Lippi.

The Leicester boss remembered: “Ancelotti was just starting his career as a manager but you could see clearly how he wanted to coach. 

“He was so straight, honest and humble — and unbelievable in terms of relations with his players.

“Lippi was much stronger but fantastic in terms of motivation.”

But when asked who are the managers that inspired him the most, Maresca had no hesitation naming Pellegrini and Guardiola.

Carlo Ancelotti was just starting his career as a manager but he was so straight, honest and humble — and unbelievable in terms of relations with his players.”


He explained: “Manuel was my manager at Malaga and the first one who said to me when I was a player that I should try to be a manager in the future.

“Also the way he trained you inside the pitch and outside of it. Plus his relationship with players was so good.

“With Pep, I played against Barcelona and it was different to play against them than any other team. So I wanted to understand why.”

And he got to learn first-hand how the master coach, his backroom team and world-class squad went about their business during two spells with City.

The Italian with super boss Pep Guardiola at Manchester City

The Leicester boss meets up for a chat with our man Justin Allen

First, he coached the City elite development team, winning the Premier League 2 title in 2021 and after a short spell away from the club returned to be an assistant last season.

He said: “It was exciting, brilliant. I was coaching the Under-23s at first but at the same time I was close to the first team so in that case you can do both.

“You can train, play the way you want with your squad but also learn because you’re close to the first team so that was good.

“I learned last season that even though Man City have world-class players, there is so much work to do.

“You need to coach them every day. You need to teach them every day because they need to understand the way you want them to play.

“One thing I realised being there is that it’s difficult to win games and that’s something people struggle to understand.

“Only because you are at Man City, some people can think it’s easy but it’s not. 

“And then people think because Leicester this season are in the Championship, it’s going to be easy to win games but it’s not.

Maresca is plotting Leicester’s return to the Premier League

“First of all players at whatever level must believe in the manager’s idea and how he wants to play.

“And this is the first step they need to understand and then because the level is so much higher you need to add more details which allows you to win games.

“Working for Pep was a great thing, it’s unbelievable in fact, because you’re being given a great opportunity to learn every day. There is so much to learn.”

Maresca took the Leicester job following their surprise relegation from the Premier League in May.

The Italian’s only previous frontline managerial experience was with Serie B club Parma, who like Leicester had just been relegated from the top tier.

And despite having the likes of Gianluigi Buffon and Franco Vazquez in his squad, he failed to reignite the club — and was sacked after 13 league games, of which they won four.

But Maresca says although he is managing a big club that has been freshly relegated, the situation is different at Leicester.

He said: “I was sure we were on the right path at Parma but the problem is when the manager and the club have two different ways of seeing things, different ideas.

“When you see things in one way and the club doesn’t see that, this is a big problem for a manager anywhere.

“Coming to Leicester was an easy decision because our ideas are perfectly aligned. They wanted to change the way they play and refresh things.

“And the most important thing is that they’re patient.

“The club knows sometimes it’s not so quick to change things, they’re aware of that.

“When the club is aware and patient, the only target is to realise what you want to realise. The problem is when people start to get nervous, this can be a big problem.”

Leicester have won four of their opening five games — losing one — and Maresca has won the SkyBet Championship manager of the month award.

Leicester boss Maresca is the SkyBet Championship manager of the month

The Foxes have done some clever summer transfer business. Despite losing the likes of James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, Youri Tielemans, Caglar Soyuncu and Tim Castagne, the club have signed high-calibre players such as Harry Winks, Conor Coady and Stephy Mavididi.

Asked what his vision is for Leicester, Maresca said: “I’m focused on this season and short term — but in terms of this club I see myself being manager here in two, three, four years in the Premier League.”

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