Who Should Replace Enzo Maresca?

Leicester fans will be relieved to see their side back in the Premier League season but they know they will have a great challenge on their hands. It is a challenge made greater by the fact that Enzo Maresca, the man who guided them to a Championship title, decided to take the vacant managerial spot at Chelsea.

The Italian’s departure provoked a mixed response from the Leicester fan base and there is also disagreement over who his replacement should be. Ideally, the Foxes would sweep in early and have someone in place comfortably before pre-season begins. With this in mind, let us look at who the main candidates are and who, in our opinion, the club should opt for.

Steve Cooper

Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper (AFC Bournemouth | Wikipedia)

Steve Cooper can have few complaints about being sacked from Forest following a run of one win in 13 matches. This poor patch of form though should not detract from an otherwise great job he did while at the club. Not only did he get a club that spent 14 years in the second tier promoted, but he guided them to Premier League survival.

Staying in the Premier League is a tough ask for any promoted team but Cooper managed it with a one-place and four-point buffer. He had other challenges too such as having to deal with the introduction of 23 new players in the summer window, making it extremely hard to know who his best eleven was. At a more stable club with less chaotic owners, there is reason to believe Cooper could shine.

Whether Leicester is the right fit, this could go either way. His style of play, while flexible, is not something that would be an immediate fit for the Foxes. He does, however, know how to organise a defence and this could be important in the Premier League. The only problem, however, is that although the 44-year-old would tighten things up at the back, the attack could really suffer. To help compensate for this, Leicester would need to possess a big set-piece threat but this is something they lacked last season.

Carlos Corberán

Based on his two stints in English football, it is easy to see why Carlos Corberán offers plenty of appeal. During his first English gig, at Huddersfield Town, his first season did not go too well but during the next campaign, he guided the Terriers to third place in the Championship. Many were anticipating the Yorkshire side to finish mid-table at best but he managed to get the most out of his limited resources.

More recently, when taking over at West Brom, he joined the club when they were second from bottom after 16 games. He quickly whipped the Baggies into shape though and guided them into the play-offs by the end of the season. Although they lost out to Southampton in the play-off semi-finals, just reaching this stage was an excellent achievement.

The fact the Baggies did not go up may make a switch to Leicester, with their Premier League status, quite appealing. As for if he would be a good fit for the Foxes, this would have the potential to be a good pairing. One reason for this is that he would not come with a radically different tactical approach. He has differences with Maresca, such as with the preferred formation, but there are a lot of similarities so the Leicester players wouldn’t face a huge transitional period.

David Moyes

David Moyes
David Moyes (Egghead06 | Wikipedia)

After it was announced Julen Lopetegui would be replacing David Moyes at West Ham, the Scot declared that he still wanted to remain in management. Retirement for the 61-year-old does not appear to be on the cards just yet and you would have to assume staying in England offers a good amount of appeal. If Leicester’s vacant managerial spot could interest him, the Scot might just be the best available option to the newly-promoted club.

Some West Ham fans complained about the quality of football but in Moyes’ defence, his squad often lacked a clinical striker to feed into. He also had to deal with a large number of fixtures due to the Hammers’ involvement in European competitions. The Conference League may not be the most prestigious competition on the continent but winning that was still a huge achievement for both Moyes and the London club.

Moyes has proved more than adept at getting results, even if it is not always pretty, and he was the man who twice set West Ham straight when they were in a complete mess. He is a manager who knows Premier League life and the challenges that come with it better than any other of Leicester’s leading candidates. What’s more, he has shown he can work with a limited budget, something likely to be the case for the Foxes this season.

Ruud van Nistelrooy

Ruud van Nistelrooy
Ruud van Nistelrooy (Ardfern | Wikipedia)

The wildcard option for Leicester, if they are feeling particularly brave, is Ruud van Nistelrooy. The former Manchester United striker has not got a great deal of managerial experience, to put it mildly. After some assistant and youth/reserve team roles, he got his first shot at full senior management at the start of the 2022/23 season. When taking the reigns at PSV Eindhoven, the club had just finished in second place, two points behind the leaders Ajax.

Although van Nistelrooy did not improve on this, also finishing second (with six fewer points) he finished the campaign unbeaten in 16 matches. Additionally, he won the domestic cup competition and only narrowly lost to eventual champions Sevilla in the Europa League knockout stages. So, it is fair to say the Dutchman showed a lot of promise as the season wore on in Eindhoven, enough to now link him to a Premier League job.

While van Nistelrooy could prove to be a great coach, it seems a little unwise for Leicester to make a risky pick straight after securing their Premier League return. For a club that has a bit of stability, having a gamble on someone like the Dutchman could be worthwhile but the Foxes need someone with a proven track record and who can set up a defence. That said, a van Nistelrooy system would, if nothing else, likely bring the best out of the Leicester wingers, as his preferred approach gives wide forwards a lot of space.

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