Monday, February 26, 2024

Enzo Maresca’s changes pay off as Leicester keep run going

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 7 Oct 2023


Leicester manager Enzo Maresca says it will be impossible to keep all of his top players happy this season as he aims to take the club back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

The Italian coach made six changes against Stoke, in what was his side’s third game in six days.

The move paid off as Leicester recorded their sixth successive Championship win that kept them top of the table.

Kelechi Iheanacho opened the scoring after 24 minutes before Jamie Vardy came off the bench to wrap up a 2-0 win.

Vardy had started on Wednesday against Preston, with Iheanacho coming off the bench to score.

“That’s why we try to switch them around,” said Maresca. “The other night against Preston, Kele was probably not happy to be on the bench.

“But he came on and was fantastic.

“Here, Jamie was not happy to be on the bench. But he came on and scored, and was happy.

“To be competitive, you need two players for each position so they can compete between them. In the end, we can choose one of them.

“Here we left out Wout Faes, Stephy Mavididi, Wilfred Ndidi, James Justin and Jamie.

“But they cannot think to play 46 games. It’s impossible.

“At the moment, no human being can play every game at the same level.

“Maybe next time, I’ll make six changes, we’ll lose and I’ll be wrong. But we have to make those decisions.”

Maresca accepted that Stoke had been tough to break down, as have a number of visitors to the King Power Stadium.

“We need to improve a lot because we are going to face these kinds of games many times. But we are going in the right direction,” he added.

Stoke manager Alex Neil had nine players missing through injury.

He said he wanted to take the game to Leicester in the second half, but the home side’s strength in depth was difficult to combat.

“If we’d got to half-time at 0-0, our intention was always to try and have a go,” he said.

“You can see why, when you do that, you don’t come here and go toe to toe with Leicester. Particularly when you haven’t got your strongest squad.

“But we had arguably two of the best chances in the game which fell to Nathan Lowe. He’s disappointed, but I said to him afterwards that I’d be more disappointed if they weren’t falling to him.

“If we had a stronger team, we’d get a better feel of where we are compared to them. We had a young side out.

“The minute we changed, they brought on pace at the top end of the pitch.

“Jamie Vardy’s going to cause you all kinds of problems at this level.

“But our set up was good, I don’t think they really had a chance until their goal. That was disappointing from our perspective as Iheanacho was really wide.”

Neil admitted Leicester’s dominance at this level shows no sign of weakening.

“They’ll be one of the best Championship teams in a long time,” he said.

“Just look at the stadium and the fans, and the players they’ve got. They have four internationals who’ve played for England – I don’t remember that happening anywhere else.”


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