29 games played, 69 points gained, 10 points clear at the summit of the EFL Championship. A seemingly miraculous turnaround from the abyssal form of the prior campaign which saw the Foxes plummet out of the Premier League while teams which broke FFP regulations remained in the division. It is clear that Leicester are doing well.
In Defence of Leicester City's Maresca
Yet, in the aftermath of another victory, Enzo Maresca was seemingly scathing of supporters for their attitudes towards his style of play. As a recap 'MarescaBall' refers to the way the King Power's players control possession with short passes around the back, shifting from side to side, using fluid movement and high-pressing to create options and overloads to eventually launch an attack. This is what the Italian head coach has said:
"I arrive in this club to play with this idea. The moment there is some doubt about the idea, the day after, I will leave. It’s so clear. No doubts"- Enzo Maresca
A philosophy of football apparently being questioned in the eyes of the boss. Supporters sighing, booing, jeering, at another pass back to Jannik Vestergaard, another pass sideways to Wout Faes, and another attack slowed down and reversed after reaching the final third. This is what the head coach is talking about.
Yet, here we are, after 29 games in the Championship with two goals for every game played, an expected goals per match of 1.81, averaging 62.9% possession across our fixtures. How can this possibly be understood by anyone in the King Power as anything other than exactly what we ought to be doing? It is madness and being stuck in the past which vexes these people.
They long for the days of searching long balls over the top for Jamie Vardy to chase, they long for those times of failed runs reaching into no-mans land leading to us just ceding possession for the sake of 'trying it' or 'hoofing it'. That is not Leicester City anymore.
We have the quality of players and coaching to control the flow of the game in our favour, to slow it down and tire the opponents until they eventually make mistakes or cannot hold back Leicester's attacks any longer. This is evidenced by how many goals we score later in games, as well as how many we concede: this is the time, later in a match, where we open up, we go for it. This is how the Foxes play under Enzo Maresca.
In Defence of Supporters
In the same vein, it is possible for fans to feel annoyed when they see 'another pass back' to Mads Hermansen only to see a searching long ball ceding possession anyway. It is possible for supporters to get frustrated and annoyed when half the game is a turgid and lethargic game of passing the ball around before we eventually decide to do something creative: when we decide it is time to strike.
"Probably the people, they think it’s easy to win games, but it’s not easy"- Enzo Maresca
The head coach is not wrong. This is football, not playstation. You cannot win every game, you cannot dominate every game, and you cannot score incessantly like your are playing EA FC on a semi-professional difficulty. Sometimes, football is a slog, a long battle through muddy ground to seldom construct a gilt-edged chance on goal.
At the same time, the Foxes do have the most expensive squad, the best players, the best training ground, we up until recently in European competition, and have tasted ecstatic victories and devastating lows in the Premier League. Supporters demand excellence, they demand more, and that is not something Enzo Maresca should be upset by.
Your fans want to see the team get that ball forward, they want to see attacks, they want to see Stephy Mavididi, Tom Cannon, Abdul Fatawu, and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall rushing forward and taking a shot. They want to see young players given a chance. That is not something to be upset by. It is not needless doubt of the Italian's ideas: his ideas are clearly working, there can be no doubt, but sometimes, players need that push from fans to do more, and do better.